Deciphering The Elements of Dialogue


Deciphering The Elements of Dialogue

When we speak to our friends and family, it’s always for some specific reason, right? Rather it’s to be cordial, to ask for something, or just for entertainment, you’re communicating for some reason.

As a writer who is creating this mystical world for your characters, it’s your job to decipher the purpose behind every conversation that your characters have. Generally, there are four elements of dialogue, and these elements help give it meaning.

1. Establishing The Conflict

It’s important to establish who wants what at the beginning of a dialogue. Doing so allows your reader to understand what’s going on immediately– unless it’s your goal to confuse your reader.

There has to be a reason why these characters are speaking because it’s vital for every aspect in your story to have a purpose. If a conversation doesn’t drive your story or push it to the next phase, then you run the risk of losing your reader because stories that move too slowly or don’t move at all are BORING!

2. Who is in control of this dialogue?

In many cases, the person who wants something out of a conversation is the one who has the power. At the end of the dialogue, the reader should be able to tell who is the vulnerable (the one who is giving the other what they want) character and who is the one with the power (the one demanding or requesting their want from the other).


Naturally, our conversations drift into other worlds— one moment we can be talking about bills and the next we’re talking about how our spouse pissed us off this morning. So, our character’s are bound to change topics— that’s okay! Your characters are supposed to be as realistic as possible, BUT it’s essential that the conversation generally has one main idea.

If you find that your character changes the topic when you’re writing their dialogue, cool, but bring it back to the main point of the conversation ASAP, so you don’t lose your reader. — Life is slow but your story shouldn’t be, get to the point!

4. The Setting

In many cases, it’s significant to choose a setting and environment that adds a sense of urgency to the scene– this helps keep the dialogue moving along.

If your characters are talking about a personal topic in a public and busy area, they will more than like talk fast and efficiently because people usually don’t want the world to know their business.

For the most part, creating dialogue is simple– especially when you have a strong understanding of the elements of dialogue that gives it purpose.

Subtext in Dialogue is another element that should be mentioned though. It’s the meaning beneath the dialogue– the feelings and thoughts the characters aren’t saying. This element applies when writing characters who are submissive and quiet because most times these characters don’t always directly say what they mean.

This element isn’t actually included in the actual dialogue. It’s the description of the character’s body language and actions while they’re communicating.

Scenes Without Dialogue go hand and hand with subtext in dialogue– especially when plotting/writing a story for visual mediums. Sometimes lack of discussion is better than dialogue. For novel writing, this will require detailed descriptions of the environment to set the mood for the reader and build an emotional connection.

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  1. […] have a firm grasp of yourself. Defining your character’s voice is more significant than drafting different dialogue. Imagine speaking at a self-worth conference when you have no idea who your voice is or what your […]

  2. […] The character’s voice/language […]

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