Sometimes I read books and wonder if the author has actually ever corresponded with another human being before. Dialogue is important. Very important. It is one of those key aspects, which can make or break a story. And yet the quality and believability of it is so astonishingly horrid in so many books.
When I first started getting back into writing, I wanted to make sure that everything I wrote really resonated with my readers. That the words and characters grabbed them and held them tight. And since characters are, after all, modeled after real living beings, I knew exactly where I needed to go to research and hone my skill.
I would spend hours sitting at coffee shops, hiding safely behind my venti latte and 17-inch screen. I would pretend that I was merely writing. In actuality, I was transcribing conversations. And more than that, I made notes about the individuals I was eavesdropping on, notating their age, height, weight, hair color, eye color, their clothes, their shoes, even what they had ordered to eat and drink. I would then go home and pour over the pages, reading everything over and over again. It’s amazing what you can learn about expression and emotion when you observe people. And picking up on all the verbal and non-verbal communications, all those delicious subtleties, and transferring that knowledge into your writing, makes your characters truly come alive.
A lot of writers read stacks and stacks of books on the craft of writing and look for prompts to inspire. It is important for us to remember that while all of that is certainly fine, the best place to find inspiration is all around us. And this goes for more than just dialogue and character traits. We can learn a lot by simply examining a tree dancing in the breeze. Life is our muse.
So take your characters and story to the next level. Go out and stalk (not literally!) your next character. Study the idiosyncrasies that make each of us unique. Then take all that research and swirl it with your imagination. The result will be not merely words on a page, but a beautifully relatable masterpiece.
About Lisa M. Gott
Lisa M. Gott is a contemporary literary fiction author. Her stories tell of the human spirit – sometimes sad, sometimes not – most can relate to them on some level or another.
Gott began her writing career under the nom de plume L.M. Stull. Her new name represented not only a new chapter in her personal life, but in her literary one as well.
When she’s not feverishly weaving words, you can find her enjoying nature, spending time with her incredible husband, and, sometimes, sipping a latte. Okay, maybe more than sometimes.
Connect with Lisa on her website and Facebook, and follow her on Twitter.