“I think you handled the exchange between believers and non-believers very well.”
That was regarding my podcast novel Archangel and the dialog that takes place in episode sixteen. It made me feel all warm and junk. But seriously, I know that in a lot of Christian fiction there are issues when you get a believer and non-believer in the same room. It seems like many authors have never heard a non-believer speak before. It actually happens in the opposite direction too, when you get someone who isn’t a Christian trying to write “Christian-y” dialog. It really all gets back to making it all “natural” and that’s true regardless of who’s talking.
For me dialog has always been something I struggled with/fretted over. Just keeping it real enough to pass without making it so stilted or awkward (as real life conversations can be) as to make it unreadable/unlistenable is a tough balance to strike. I feel that podcasting has really helped that since by reading it out loud I hear how it sounds. I also find myself really listening to conversations around me and sort of mentally recording the rhythms and word choices. Doing this without looking like a stalker/eavesdropper is hard but it’s worth whatever risk there is. It should be noted that I put the word natural in quotes up there because I don’t think any writer can (and perhaps no writer should even if they could) make any dialog truly natural.
Another thing I struggle with, that’s been brought to my attention, is my choice of figures of speech. I’ve been in the rural south most of my life and I’m certain this comes out in much of what I write. If I were just writing stories that take place in that setting this might not be such a big deal. As it is, I’m not. So it’s just one more thing to keep a weather eye out there for.
What helps your dialog writing? What do you struggle with?