Papa Spoye's tips on making a better conversation.
Do you need help on changing your poor script? Does your story need more detail? If you answered yes... you've come to the right place. Just continue reading to change your boring script into a work of art.
1) Starting off
We are going to start off with a basic stage script. These should be the bare bones you should start off with before you start writing a conversation between two (or more) characters, it is essential to start off with a script before writing the full thing:
Bob: Make me a sandwich
Martha : *Laughs* No
Bob: *Pulls out knife* I'm serious
Okay... we have finished our basic script. It includes the characters actions and their dialogue. Now... it's time to put this in a format that people read... not act.
At this point you have to ask yourself, is my story told in a first person narrative or a third person narrative? If it's first person, who's perspective are you narrating from? However, we will be continuing in a third person narrative:
Bob said, "Make me a sandwich." Martha laughed then said, "No." Bob pulled out his knife and said, "I'm serious."
Now we have a readable version of our earlier script. It's... okay, but it's pretty boring. But don't worry, we can add more things in!
3) The 5 w's
At this point of writing, you have to use the five w's ; Who, when, why, what, where. You don't HAVE to use all of the w's, but it really helps. These can really help you in fleshing out your conversation and it engages your readers. It gives them more of a reason to read your story. It can also be used for other parts of your story... not just your dialogue. So now... I'm going to write you the same passage, but with the 5 w's applied to it:
Bob was sitting down on his favourite armchair when Martha came by. She was late by half an hour, but Martha being herself... she didn't give a damn. Bob stared at Martha when she trotted by into his field of vision... looking all happy and cheerful, whilst twirling her salmon-pink hair. She set herself down and neatly folded her hands on her lap. Bob grunted, " Make me a sandwich." Martha was taken back at first, but returned to her usual self with a wide grin from ear to ear. She pondered Bobs' demand, wondering what on earth he was talking about. But then, she got it. She threw her head back and let out a bone-chilling laugh, before slowly returning to her usual position. The room was filled with an eerie silence until she whispered, as quiet as the morning breeze outside, "No." Bob immediately slammed the table with his hairy fist as he growled like an untamed bear. He noticed the sea of eyes staring at him as if he was an alien. He took a deep breath and composed himself as he stared back, uttering a silent apology. The room slowly returned to it's normal lively chatter as Bob's eyes rested on Martha's face. Wanting Martha to get the full message, he muttered under his breath, "I'm serious." Bob reached into his leather jacket and pulled out an unopened flip knife. He pushed it into Martha's face before setting it on the table between them. Martha stared at the knife as if it was an everyday object, but her heart finally sunk when she noticed a bloody, red smear on the handle.
I got you hooked, didn't I? This is how much detail the 5 w's can add in. If you are wondering how I did that, I wrote down the 5 w's and wrote some notes next to it... like this:
Who - Martha + Bob.
Bob = Serious, to the point, hot tempered, intolerant.
Appearance = Middle aged, hairy hand.
Martha = Child-like, funny, always cheerful
Appearance = Young, elegant, beautiful, possibly unorganised
What - What would happen when these two characters mix in?
What would one do when the other takes their too far?
What does the knife look like?
When - Aiming for a spring morning.
Slight breeze must be mentioned.
Why - Why are they meeting?
Where - In a public place where casual meetings occur (must be indoors):
Coffee shop/ Cafe
As you can see, I applied most of my notes into the conversation and it added a lot of detail. You may have noticed that instead of using the word, said, I used words such as, grunted, whispered and muttered. I did this because, said is a very broad and general term. It covers pretty much anyway you say things. Using this word means, you take away the personality of how the character say it. In this situation, you can find way better words using a thesaurus. A thesaurus is a book that finds words similar to the word you entered. So if I put in 'ugly', I can get words such as 'grotesque' and 'awful'... which are really descriptive words that means pretty much the same thing as 'ugly'.
You may have also noticed that I included things like 'similes' and 'metaphors', which are both literary devices. This moves us on to my next point.
4) Literary devices
A literary device is a structure, mainly used by authors and writers, which helps and assist delivering the readers a message. Some literary devices you may have heard, of such as 'pun' and 'sarcasm'. Others you may not have heard of, such as 'Zeugma' and 'Verisimilitude'. In all, there are tons of literary devices, and most of them can be used when writing a text, a poem, stage plays ,even a song!
But because we're doing dialogues, we'll be focusing on how to apply these techniques in conversation. At one point of the detailed conversation that I wrote, I described Martha's whisper as, "... quiet as the morning breeze..." Some of you may have pointed out that I used a simile or a metaphor in that line. Making that connection, gives the readers a sense of relaxation and may even feel a breeze... as stated. Another example, is the use of visual imagery when describing Bobs', "Hairy fist." Imagery is used to paint a picture for the reader using descriptive language such as, colours, shapes and texture. In Bobs' case, I didn't really use imagery that much, I just described a hand. I could have used imagery when describing either of the characters or I could have described the place where the event took place... but I decided to stick with the characters actions and the conversation.
This is just my tactic on how to make a conversation more interesting and fleshed out. You don't HAVE to follow my tactic every time, but it's my way of writing detailed dialogues. Hope this article helped you and thanks for reading!