Okay, this totally almost qualifies as a guest post. My friend, author Annette Lyon, mentioned the many purposes dialogue can serve in a comment here, and then on Monday, after a question from Kathleen, Annette posted about six things dialogue can/should do.
In a scene, dialogue isn’t just there to pass the time or fix the pace. Dialogue needs a purpose for the story, or it’s just fluff. Annette outlines six purposes dialogue can serve in a scene, to help us keep our writing (and the story) moving forward.
It’s hard to pick a favorite part of Annette’s post, but this is one paragraph that really made me think:
Sometimes, even the people we’re with affect how we say things. I know I’ve lapsed into an almost teenage-style of talking around friends I know from that era, while I’ll use a more formal register with, say, the school principal. When I’m talking with my sisters, I sound very different than when I’m talking to my kids. And so on.
Annette also gives good advice on what to do and what not to do when writing dialogue, and how to portray each of her six purposes in your dialogue. So check it out!