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Creating real-seeming characters through believable dialogue

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If you are taking or have taken a creative writing class or workshop, your professor may have written comments about how your characters converse. He or she may have said that your characters are flat, that they are uninteresting on the page. He or she may have asked you to pump some life into them through dialogue. Dialogue in fiction is one of the toughest fictional devices we writers can tackle. We often rely on cliched or mundane dialogue to move our characters along. This is a common trap in fiction writing. Remember that fiction writing is a craft, and there are a lot of choices we make when we write a short story or a novel. This solution will offer suggestions for writing dialogue that will ring true and believable. Your readers will thank you.

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Solution Summary

Understanding how to render unique fictional characters by an exploration of "interesting dialogue, "avoiding "dialect," and knowing a character's background.

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Wander through book stores or do an online search, and you will find hundreds of books about writing fiction. I have my favorites, too. Since I've been teaching fiction writing for 20 years, several points for creating believable characters ring true for me. As an aspiring writer knows, cliché is the enemy. Without real-seeming characters in what John Gardner called a "vivid and continuous dream," his definition of fiction, your story will fail, your audience will likely stop reading because your characters will be flat and without energy. In this solution, I would like to address a variety of choices we make when creating characters.

Characters Speak (Dialogue)

Have you ever read a story where no one is talking? Me either. You are either listening to a conversation between two characters or a narrator is having a conversation with you, the ...

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  • PhD, Oklahoma State University
  • MA, Northern Michigan University
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  • "Dr. Learst-Thank you for responding and I apologize for the delay. I apologize if i confused you somehow, but basically, the assignment was not to edit the actual job description or resume which is what you did) it's basically scenario was that the mock resume belonged to the job applicant who is /will be interviewing for the job description(which by the way is a real one from online by the Company "Unity." Essentially, looking at my resume and then matching 'speaking points' for the interview based on each specific goal/role/expectation in the job description? Makes sense? In any event I still paid -Thanks for your time. I will also leave a great rating.-Just wanted to clarify however. Thanks "
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