The importance of good dialogue

I just finished a book this morning, which wasn’t bad…nothing to write home about but it kept me reading. And I stopped to think – what was the thing that made me go – ‘eh, not bad’ rather than ‘wow, great read’?

And essentially, it was dialogue. At times, it was good, whereas at other times, it was stiff and hard to keep track of. It pulled me out of the story, especially when I had to read it a couple of times to work out what in the hell they were trying to say! I think one of the things about dialogue is that it doesn’t necessarily need to follow grammatical rules…this is not necessarily how we speak to each other. We use slang, shorten or lengthen words and talk in our own specific ways – long sentences with lots of ‘ands’ or short and crisp with not too many extra words or fast or well thought out – and it’s those things that keep me interested in a character. :-)

(a great short example of dialogue…what type of character doing you picture saying this?)