Using Dialogue in Short Stories (a few tips)

Uses of Dialogue

  • To make your reader assume the role of listener, for they have to shift concentration from the eyes to ears

  • An alternative method of carrying through a theme

  • To amplify the noise of your story or a voice of a character in particular

  • To allow your reader to control their own judgment

  • To expose discord in character relations (difference between what is spoken and what is actually felt)

  • To verbalize a moral undertone or lesson

  • To change the pace (slow/fast)

  • To clue the reader on possible time or setting

  • In a short story the plot has to move forward relatively quickly, dialogue can move the plot forward whilst still showing and not telling

  • Changing perspectives (how character’s really see each other)

  • Bringing characters to life, giving them familiarity


When dialogue goes wrong?

  • Perhaps not all questions in a short story actually require an answer? Giving too much away through dialogue may retract the ‘guess work’ from your reader which may subsequently retract the concentration needed for deeper analysis

  • To give a story discord what is not said is sometimes more important – be careful to draw the line on how much information your characters are leaking

How do people actually speak?

  • It is important to find a balance

  •  pauses and short expressions are often a useful way of conveying realistic speech

  • For example, when using cursing it is important to keep in mind how you will balance the realistic element of how often your character swears but also keeping in mind how including a large volume of curse words may retract attention from the speech that actually says something and actually offers the reader a destination.


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