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Craft: Dialogue Checklist

Written by Vicki Hinze

On December 28, 2010

Vicki Hinze © 2003-2011

(Blog Post)

After you’ve written your scene, it’s a good idea to run a checklist on all dialogue. As you do so, ask the following questions:

* Did I say exactly what I meant to say?
* Did I say what I meant to say in a manner that is natural to the character speaking?
* Would the scene suffer or stand strong without this dialogue? Is it necessary, essential to the story?
* Does this dialogue propel the plot, contribute to its forward-moving momentum?
* Does this dialogue generate or complicate an existing conflict?
* Does this dialogue create intimacy or immediacy?
* Is it evident, by speech pattern, style, and tone, who is speaking?
* Does this dialogue subtly convey the mood (emotional state) at this given moment of the character speaking?
* Is the emotion being conveyed by this dialogue appropriate to the circumstance created within the scene? If not, is its inappropriateness intentional? Within character? Motivated?
* Is the body language of the character speaking attuned to what is being said, or being left unsaid?


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