A dialogue is a type of literature in which two or more people talk to each other. Although traditional narrative novels are still popular, many modern titles are composed of a series of interactions between characters. You may be familiar with movies like The English Patient, where the main character interacts with a number of other characters, often in the form of a dialogue.
Creative writing is a broad category that includes fiction, non-fiction, and screenwriting. The term ‘creative writing’ is used to describe a wide range of literacies including novels, short stories, and plays. Some examples of creative writing include Masters of the Universe, The Amazing Adventures of Kaba, the Flying Bear, and The Call of the Wild. The term ‘creative writing’ can be used to refer to all types of fiction, including science fiction, fantasy, and horror, as well as autobiographies and comics.
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The Importance of Dialogues in Creative Writing
Whether you’re writing for school, to improve your language skills, or for fun, you’ll probably want to include some type of dialogue in your work. Although the exact details will vary, most narrative works – the type of fiction often found in Masters of the Universe, The Amazing Adventures of Kaba, the Flying Bear, and The Call of the Wild – will feature at least some type of dialogue. In the English Patient movie, the three main characters – David, Anaïs, and Roger – converse with each other to tell their stories. They also have several extended discussions about the nature of love and commitment.
In more modern works, dialogues often take the place of traditional narrativesteps. Characters in The Amazing Adventures of Kaba, the Flying Bear talk to each other for extended periods as they unravel the mysteries of the forest and its inhabitants. Young Harry Potter discovers the magical world around him, and how to navigate it effectively, through a series of extended conversations with the creatures he meets.
In creative writing, dialogues function to move the story forward. However, just because the characters in your story are having a conversation doesn’t mean that you have to include an actual dialogue. You could create a series of fictional narratives where the characters converse with each other using inflection and body language to create the illusion of a conversation. Catch-22 author Joseph Heller’s classic novella is a good example of using sound effects, repetitive phrases, and stylized pacing to create the illusion of dialogue.
Types of Dialogues Found in Creative Writing
In creative writing, you’ll often encounter various types of dialogues. Some of these are:
- Introverted dialogues: These dialogues usually take place between one or two people, and they are meant to introduce the reader to the characters and/or setting. The conversations are often focused on a single topic, and they are used to reveal more about the people involved in the story. Examples include:
- Masters of the Universe – The dialogue between Captain America and Ironman
- The Amazing Adventures of Kaba, the Flying Bear – The series of dialogues that unfold between the protagonist and his sidekick, Baboo
- The Call of the Wild – The dialogues between Captain John and Red.
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets – The introduction of Harry Potter to the Hogwarts school of witchcraft and wizardry
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – The meeting of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in order to kill Voldemort and the gang of Death Eaters
- The English Patient – The introduction to the novel’s main character, Dr. Robert Wilson
- The White Rose – The conversations that take place between the protagonist, Sophie, and her friend, Agatha
- Tesseract – The conversations that take place between the four playable characters as they try to uncover the mysteries of the mansion in which they found themselves trapped
- The Dark Horse by Gary Larson: This graphic novel is about a jockey who wakes up one morning to find his entire body covered in hair. He explores the forest and finds that most of the horses he meets there have the same condition. The jockey decides to investigate and discovers that the horses are being used to smuggle opium into China.
Many authors use a combination of the above techniques to create the illusion of a dialogue. When using inflection, pause and repetition, you don’t need to say everything that is communicated in a single sentence. You can often get away with having a character say only a few words and having the listener supply the rest. This technique is called paragraph voicing. It makes the dialogue more realistic and gives it more weight.
The presence of dialogues in creative writing classes is more than just an exercise in teaching how to write. The dialogues in creative writing can be used in a number of different ways. You don’t have to include exactly what is said, and you don’t need to have all of the characters respond to each other’s statements. You can, however, use the dialogues to add credibility to your story by showing that the conversations move the story forward. You may also want to use the dialogues to explore characters’ thoughts and feelings as they relate to the story. Just because the characters are talking doesn’t mean that you have to describe what they say in detail. You can use free indirect discourse to show how characters’ mental processes work, by describing the scenes in which they speak without using ‘he said’ or ‘she said’.
How to Write a Dialogue for Screenwriting
As well as being used in novels and short stories, screenwriters will often use dialogues in their films. Although you won’t need to use actual screenplays to practice writing dialogues, it is still a good idea to gain experience in handling dialogue. If you’re writing for a TV series or a film, you’ll most likely be required to use a formal script format, so it’s worthwhile studying how to write a screenplay with dialogues.
The format for a screenplay is quite different to that of a novel or short story. Instead of using progressive revelation, where the reader discovers information about the characters along with the narrative, screenplays will often use traditional revelation, where the reader learns about the characters through what they say. It is also common for screenplays to have a flashback sequence, where the narrative is interrupted by a scene that takes place in the past. This technique is used to great effect in The English Patient, where the scene interrupts the action in the middle of a conversation, and we see a part of the story that the characters didn’t see on the way to their fateful meeting in the desert.
How to Write a Dialogue for Non-Fiction
Although non-fiction doesn’t always need to be informative in nature, many titles – including autobiographies, biographies, and historical novels – will feature some type of dialogue. The exact details will vary from author to author, but many non-fiction writers will include a section in which the characters (usually two or more) discuss the events of the story. The technique is often referred to as talking about the story, where the characters tell each other about their experiences as they relate to the story’s events.