Dialog / Dialogue - 379

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Dialogue / Dialog.

    A dialogue is a talk between two or more people. To write a dialogue is a quite different exercise from writing a story or an essay. It should be more natural, because we are continually talking, but very few of us write stories or essays. It should be more easy, because we have so much practice in talking. But it really is not so easy, because when we are talking we think most about what we ourselves are saying or going to say, and not about what the other person is saying. But if we are going to write a dialogue, we must think out what each person is to say. To do this we have to put ourselves into the position of other people who perhaps do not think and feel as we do. And this requires what we call imagination. Theatrical plays or dramas are all in dialogue, and the writer of a drama has to imagine what each of the players would feel and think and say, which is not easy. It will help you to write dialogues if you practise writing from memory any talks you have just had with relatives and friends. Sometimes we really enjoy what we call a good talk. Such talks are worth writing down. And they are often very interesting to other people. The most popular books in prose are stories, and good stories are largely made up of conversation.

# You have surely read many stories, and so you will have some ideas about good conversation. How does it differ from the written language? What are the kinds of expression which you do not wish to see in reported talk? Conversation is a natural habit, and so we expect a reported or invented talk to be natural, just as it would be in real life. There are certain things, then, which we should keep out of the dialogues we write.

# Dialogue should be in the speech which is natural to the persons talking. A boy should speak like a boy, an old man like an old man. A little girl should not be made to talk like her grandmother.

# In essays we often find long sentences with difficult words. But in good conversation the sentences should be short, and the words should be familiar.

# Good English dialogue is full of life. In reading it we feel that the persons speaking are very near to us. They should not use worn out sayings or proverbs; they should not preach, that is, one person should not lay down the law to another. Each should express himself as freely as two children would.

# Of course, some dialogue you are asked to write may be between master and servant, or between a queen and an ordinary person. In such cases the dialogue would report the natural politeness or courtesy shown at such a meeting.

# Models of good English dialogue will be found in English novels and short stories. Charles Dickens was one of the greatest writers of dialogue the world has ever known. But there are hundreds of writers who have written during the generation since Dickens died, and their books are plentiful.

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