By Bhalachandra Sahaj
For me, writing dialog has always been one of the most difficult tasks in creative writing. In your head, your character’s discussions always sound natural and logical, but as soon as you transcribe them onto paper, they suddenly start to sound crude, forced out, and unnatural. And I have to edit and reedit dialogues multiple times, unless I feel more or less content with the result.
However, there is a much easier path to learn the natural way of how people talk. Since we live in the 21st century (thank God for that) it would be a crime to not use the technologies available nowadays. In particular, I’m talking about a voice recorder.
Ask two or more of your friends for their permission to record their conversations from time to time. At first, they will be aware of the voice recorder, so their conversations won’t be as natural as usual; you should wait a couple of days before they get used to the idea of being recorded (you warned them, so it’s okay). Start a conversation on an interesting topic, or talk to them about whatever you feel like. The main condition is that you get to record the live dialogue of real people.
Next, you will need to transcribe what you’ve recorded. You can omit meaningless parts, but you will have to work hard, identifying intonations and emotions with which your friends speak. If you were, say, a translator or a journalist, it wouldn’t be necessary; but since you are a writer, intonations and emotions become crucial to you. So, along with transcribing dialogues, make written remarks about emotions.
This is basically it. As an outcome, you get real, live dialogue between real people. Use it as you will. You can insert it in your writing; in this case, you should ask your friends’ permission to do so. Most probably, you will also need to change their real names. Or you can use the recorded materials to learn how people speak in real lives, and use this knowledge when creating your own dialog.
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