Dialogue—read plays

Mark Goodyear made a great point that one way to learn to write good dialogue is to read good dialogue, and one of the best resources are good plays. Specifically, the Tony winners, since aren’t those the best plays written in America?

If you go to his blog post about it, he gives the website of the Tonys and how to search for plays to read.

Plays can be found in your local library. They might also be in the drama department of your local high school and available for loan, so send your child on a recon mission. Another good resource is online stores where you can buy cheap used copies (which you can then flag and mark up with notes).

Look for dialogue that moves you, then look through it again to discover why. Look at pacing, sentence rhythm, word choice—especially word choice specific to certain characters. Judicious use of sentence structure and sentence length also make up good dialogue.

Once you analyze good dialogue, you’ll find you’ll be more critical of your own writing as you work on your dialogue scenes.