When writing dialogue, it’s important to consider both what the character is saying, and what they are revealing. There are 4 ways that dialogue can reveal new information to the audience:
1. Questions a character asks.
2. Statements a character makes.
3. How a character responds
4. Vague Remarks & Implications
Choice plays a critical role in any story. Much of the meaning found in stories is derived from the choices a character makes, and their consequences. And yet, I feel that most characters make very few real choices over the course of their story. And I think that’s a good thing. Too many choices can overwhelm a person, just as too few can make for a boring story.
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.
Most character perspectives are revealed as part of the overall process of revealing character, see 103 on engaging and revealing characters, but POV characters have the added challenge of conveying the details of the story while also remaining true to their own perspective.