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Neil Gaiman Shares His Top Tips on Improving Dialogue

“A reader’s emotions can be sparked with few words. That’s the power of dialogue.” Sol Stein

Neil Gaiman is an English author of short fiction, novels, comic books, graphic novels and non-fiction books. His work includes amongst many other titles: The Sandman, American Gods, Stardust. Coraline, The Graveyard Book.

1. Dialogue serves to: reveal characters, advance plotlines, and provide entertainment.

2. Neil often listens to the way people talk, and this is how his dialogue begins to emerge.

3. See what you can cut from your wording, while still retaining the meaning and tone you wanted to create.

4. Select fragments of sentences that sound more natural.

5. Use contractions.

6. Trim excess filler words such as “uh” and “well”.

7. In real life, people don’t call each other by names all the time so make sure you don’t make that mistake with your characters.

8. Show instead of telling when/where you can.

9. Putting your characters in motion will break the pattern of repetition.

“Dialogue is a lean language in which every word counts. “ Sol Stein

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