One of my worst—*very* worst—fears as a writer, is to write bad dialogue. It started when I was a kid and heard my mom talking about a book series she was reading. She said the story was wonderful and inspiring, but the dialogue was so bad that it totally ruined it. She eventually quit reading the series.
Then—oh then!—I saw the Star Wars prequels… I’ve been a fan of Star Wars pretty much since I was born, but those prequels… *shudders* From then on, I had a name for what I was watching out for in my writing. I call it, “George Lucas Dialogue”, where everything is so ridiculous and unbelievable that you want to claw out your eyes and ears and crawl into a hole.
I mentioned this fear to my husband, and he had a solution for me. “Watch people,” he said. “Pay attention to how they talk.“ And I thought… “Duh, me!” If you’re going to write about people, you need to be observant. Be honest with yourself about how other humans talk, about what different people want, the masks they wear, their quirks and scars—scars both seen and unseen—and how they behave and would *honestly* react to things. Characters will tell their stories on their own if you’ll just let them be honest with you.
Anyway, since then, I have been taking lots of notes on what I learn and observe of people—both mental and literal notes. So this threat here ☝️… it is very, *very* real.
Image from Cafe Press.