Goals in Dialogue
All conversations center around a topic. The topic may change over time, but typically there is one focus at any given time. In turn, every character participating in the conversation has a goal in mind. Typically a dialogue goal will center around information, either trying to learn, impart, or conceal information. For example, two characters in a car might debate whether to take the highway or stay on back roads. The focus of the conversation is determining which route they’ll take.
Some techniques for controlling pacing are universal to writing: sentence length, content, etc. (See 206 Pacing for more information about pacing in general.) But dialogue also has two unique technique for managing its pacing: manner of speech, and collaborative vs conflicting dialogue.
Character interaction is all about relationships, and dialogue is no exception. Every conversation centers around one or more important topics, and when discussing a topic it’s important to consider the following questions:
What are modalities?
A modality is how someone translates real world experiences into memories, and how they retrieve those memories. For example, when someone reads text, there are a few different ways they might remember what they’ve read:
Remembering the specific words on the page
Saying the words out loud and remembering the sound
Reinterpreting the text and remembering their own version of it
Clarity is an essential component of any good story. In dialogue, clarity means making sure audiences know who is speaking. The most common method is to identify the speaker by name, typically by using a tag such as “(name) said”. But it’s also important to make sure a character’s voice is consistent.