All terms

What is dialogue?

A conversation between two or more characters in a literary work.

Let Your Characters Speak: An Exploration of Dialogue in Creative Writing

Dialogue is the backbone of any great story. It’s the exchange between characters that readers use to get to know them better, to learn about their motivations, and to drive the plot forward. In creative writing, dialogue is a powerful tool that can bring life to your characters and make them feel like real people.

Good dialogue is more than just words on a page. It’s about capturing the unique voices of your characters and using them to reveal important information about the story. When crafting dialogue, it’s important to keep a few things in mind: first, make sure that each character has a distinct voice and way of speaking; second, use dialogue to reveal things about your characters that can’t be shown through action; and finally, keep the conversation moving forward and avoid unnecessary digressions.

While there are a few basic rules of grammar that should be followed when writing dialogue — such as using quotes and proper punctuation — ultimately, the goal is to create a conversation that feels true to life. By focusing on the unique personalities of your characters and their motivations, you can create dialogue that not only advances the plot but also keeps readers engaged and invested in the story.

Talking the Talk: Two Examples of Dialogue in Literature

Dialogue is a staple in literary composition. Here are two examples of how it's used in literature.

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Act II, Scene II: Juliet expresses her love to Romeo at the balcony.

“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.”

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Holden Caulfield has an internal dialogue about his feelings of isolation.

“That's the whole trouble. You can't ever find a place that's nice and peaceful, because there isn't any. You may think there is, but once you get there, when you're not looking, somebody'll sneak up and write 'F--- you' right under your nose. Try it sometime.”