Example 3.  Failed dialogue: NOT GOOD.

“Is that a bear?” Joe asked.
“Where?” Sam said.
“Over there.”
“Damn.  I think it is a bear.”
“What are we going to do?”
“I don’t know.”

Example 4. BETTER.  Elements of surprise and action.

The bear reared back on its hind legs, roaring.
“Don’t move!” said Joe. 
“I’m going to throw up.” Sam said.
“He’s seen us.”
“I dropped my rifle.”
“Start making noise.  Maybe we can scare him.”

The reading of the dialogue may take longer than the story action would require.  The reader senses this discrepancy, and although the discrepancy may not be identified, it may result in the feeling of inferior writing and storytelling.

But great dialogue can add a physical rhythm to the reading, provide a rich field for fictional voice development, show unique character thought patterns, and provide scene motion.

Characters speaking in fiction must say only what they can reasonably be expected to think and formulate.  Thoughts, feelings, opinions or desires of the author must not come through character dialogue.  Although you can easily find examples of authorial intrusion in many famous and published authors, it is rarely effective in present-day storytelling.  Authorial intrusions weaken the character, break the reader’s involvement in the story, and rarely contribute to the story line, theme or development.  This does not mean a narrator’s prevailing presence is not always in the story, or that narrator’s point of view is not useful.  It is only jolting, unrelated or tangential ideas or speech inappropriate for the character and interjected into the flow of the story that must be avoided.


* Dialogue should never be written to fill in or to replace essential facts or transitions.

* Each dialogue segment should have multiple purposes.

* Dialogue should present essential information for the story.

* Dialogue should be spoken by the most effective character for the immediate part of the story.

* Modern dialogue is not effective as soliloquy, or sermon, or exposition of fact.

* Dialogue must be in a consistent voice.

* Dialogue is used to break up narrative passages, but dialogue as boredom prevention is not effective.