Every fiction story needs several things: characters, setting, plot, and theme. If any one of these things is missing, the fiction story will not be very successful. One of the best ways to convey all of those things to the reader is through the use of realistic dialogue. What the characters say, and how they say it, will impart more information to the readers than anything else in the story. Writing realistic dialogue, however, can be a difficult thing. Fictional characters do not speak the same way real life people speak. However, they have to give the impression that they are. And, above all, there dialogue must sound realistic. He Said, She Said Dialogue tags are important to let your reader know who is talking, but overusing them is a no-no. First of all, when there are only two characters talking, their way of talking and topics should be different enough so that the reader can differentiate them without dialogue tags. There are two methods of utilizing dialogue tags. The consensus seems to be that it is better to not use them, or to simply use “he said” and “she said.” Other people say that you should use fancy dialogue tags complete with adverbs. Example: “he crooned lovingly.” This is really done better in realistic dialogue by using actions to convey tone and personality. Actions to Convey Tone and Personality Instead of using fancy dialogue tags as described above, you should intersperse actions with the dialogue. In real life, people don’t usually sit perfectly still and orate. You can learn a lot about what a person is thinking and feeling by body language. This should be used in realistic fiction conversations as well. Instead of “I don’t like snakes,” she screamed loudly, how about trying one of these? 1. “I don’t like snakes,” she said, inching away from the glass case holding the boa. 2. “I don’t like snakes,” she screamed, and then ran from the room, her hands flailing. 3. “I don’t like snakes,” she said, and glared at the man next to her at the bar until he went away. Using actions to convey tone and mood works, and it also imparts more information to the reader. Dialects and Accents If your fiction character speaks with an accent or in a dialect, it is nice to let the reader know that. It can be done by simply mentioning, “When I first heard her speak, I knew she wasn’t from around here.” And perhaps describing where the character comes from. And then write their dialogue in plain English. You could also include an accent tag to make the speech seem realistic. A 16th century courtier might say “thee” and “prithee” while a peasant could get on with “ye.” Over use of dialogue, misspellings might give your reader exactly what the character sounds like, but it would be unrealistic to expect them to read it! Hesitation and Uncertainty In real life, people often say “umm” and “like” and “uhhh” to indicate hesitation and uncertainty. At no time in the writing of fiction should these things be used more than one time in a conversation. They can be added for emphasis in certain instances, but certainly not used the same way people really do use them. Writing realistic dialogue can be tricky. However, it is one of the most important things that a fiction writer should do in his or her story. Not only can dialogue let the reader know what a character wants to say, it can convey intention and give information about the plot, the setting, and the theme of the fiction story. Conquer the art of realistic dialogue and you will impress your reader every time.