EFFECTIVE DIALOG ALWAYS DELIVERS TENSION
If nothing is at stake and the characters are just talking about a football match, or their latest visit to WallMart-Tesco-Woolworths-ValuMart – making small talk shows weak dialog. The purpose of dialog for your romance, horror, sci-fi, etc, is to create tension and there are no exceptions. If you apply this in practice your result will be a novel that a reader won’t be able to put down – even if his/her house was on fire.
DON’T RELY ON INNER VOICE – OR NARRATOR VOICE ALONE TO SHOW WHO YOUR CHARACTER IS
First person POV and third person POV can benefit from this. How do you know things about the woman who lives across the road, or your local butcher, or your cousins boyfriend? There are two ways you learn things about people.
(1) You talk to them and ask them direct questions.
(2) Other people tell you things about them, most commonly through gossip.
A character or supporting character talking about your protagonist is an excellent way to describe the physical features, disfigurements, positive and negative traits.
“Jimmy always smells so bad. Do you think he showers?”
In the above example we now figure that Jimmy is unhygienic. And if we add:
“I know right? Yesterday He asked if I could drive him to the local mall, even though it’s only a five minute walk from his apartment. And when he got out of my car I had to spray my perfume to get rid of the stink.”
We now get that Jimmy is lazy and this will work well for writers who are going for omniscient POV.
If you’re writing in first or third person POV, you could have your protagonist overhear someone talking about them or you could have someone talk about them directly.
“Oh Jimmy, you have the most amazing sea green eyes. I would stare at them all day if I could.”
Emotions into Dialog
The more emotion you add to your scenes the faster it moves forward. This is because it heightens the tension and conflict.
Your readers look for your characters emotions. They want to know how your character feels as the giant space rock hurtles closer to the earths atmosphere. An asteroid on a path to earth is just a theory. A character experiencing the day an asteroid is on a path to earth is a story.
You can create emotion through dialog.
“There’s so much more I want to do with my life. Why couldn’t the asteroid wait another hundred years?”
The above example shows sadness and dissapointment. And the example below shows fear.
“I’m really scared, Allen. Do you think it will hurt?”
What about hope?
“My uncle has a bomb shelter. Gether the children and enough food for one year. We’ll be fine.”
“The asteroid will burn apart once it hits the earth’s atmosphere. There’s no need for us to panic, the government is just being overly dramatic because it makes for good news.”