Exploring realistic dialogue

source: http://flic.kr/p/7EQ1yQ

How do you capture the REAL dialogue in your writing?
source: http://flic.kr/p/7EQ1yQ

Like with most things, in writing, you can be bad at certain parts and good at others. One of the areas I feel least confident is when dealing with dialogue. Happily, we covered dialogue in class last week which I think has helped me immensely.

“Dialogue is a skill best learned by people who enjoy talking and listening to others – particularly listening, picking up accents, rhythms, dialect, and slang of various groups” – Stephen King. “…When dialogue is right, we know. When it’s wrong we also know – it jags on the ear like a badly tuned musical instrument.”

That is an incredibly accurate line. I’ve read plenty of books, most of them quite good, but sometimes you come across something that just doesn’t sit right, doesn’t work quite so well, it doesn’t fit with the rest of the story. This is when you notice the bad dialogue.


You’re provided with the below scenario and using ONLY dialogue and very minimal prose you need to write a scene that gives the reader insight into both characters while talking yourself out of the robbery.

Character A is walking down a street when confronted by a derelict, Character B. Character B says something to the effect: “I’m broke, can you help me?” Character A says, “I’m sorry, no.” Character B produces a knife and demands, “Give me your wallet.”

You have 30mins for this one.

Give this one a go, it was surprisingly hard, but equally fun. I’ll post my very bizarre story below for you guys to have a look. It’s not brilliant, but I enjoyed writing it and it got a hoot of laughter from my classmate 😀 It is a quick read, but it looks long.

My version

Stacey is walking down a street when confronted by a derelict bum type.

“I’m broke, can yer help me?

“I’m sorry, no”

He produces a knife and demands “Give me yer wallet!”

“What?! No!”

“I’ll cut yer pretty face. Give me yer wallet!”

“You don’t want my wallet,”

“Yes I do”

“No you do not!”

“I do, I need money. Ya look like a gal who has money”

“What are you implying?” she snorts.

“Um, that ya ain’t broke like me.”

“Oh, I thought you were implying that I was an unsavoury type with drugs or that-”

“Ya don’t have none do ya?”



“Erm, no I don’t like drugs or the types who…”

The knife glints as he lifts it towards her again “I see the type yer are,”

“No, no! I’m not. really. Just… I’m nervous with the knife in my face, can you put it away please?”

“No, I want yer wallet”

“I don’t have a wallet”

“No wallet, dolled up like yer are”

“Dolled? Really?”

“That be what I sed”

“Thanks, I like to look good,”

“Yer clothes look ‘spensive”

“They are”

“So give me yer wallet”

“I told you, I don’t have one. Don’t you listen?”

“Yer I do. Ya make no sense”

“Sure I do. I don’t have a wallet. I can’t help you, but I like that you think I look nice”

“It is a pretty dress, blue, like the sky”

“It matches my eyes”

“It matches the sky”

“And my eyes. It’s such a pretty colour”

“Take it off!”


“Take it off, I ain’t gonna say it again”

“But-but we’re in the street. People might see”

“Don’t care”

“No…no! I can’t!”

“Yer can. Now!”

“M-mm-maybe I can give you money once I am home?”

“Nuhuh. Off”

“This is so demoralising!”

“Pretty,” he whispers

“Should I fold it? I will die of cold now in my undergarments, you big brute.”

“Give it”

“Here, you lout, take it”

“Mmmm… pretty! Lacy”

“There’s no lace on that dress. It’s an extremely expensive silk”

“Not the dress. You”

“What? M-My underwear? Yes, that’s French lace, it’s hand steeped in dye to allow each garment a different an completely unique hue.”


“Stop staring at me you pervert!”

“Take ’em off”

“No! Absolutely not. Out of the question. I will not. Imagine, a lady like me…”

“Now!” he growled, the knife shifting closer still.

“Do you plan to rape me too? No… no, I don’t want to know.”


“I suppose it won’t do me any good to try and reason with you will it?”

“I want yer lacy things”

“How about money? I can give you money, just take me to the bank”


“But…I-I-I can’t get NAKED in the street! What would Mummy say?

“Fuck yer Mummy”

“I beg your pardon!”

“Fuck ‘er. Lacy things… Now!”

“Ok, ok. Don’t get your knickers in a knot. Oh my!”

“Pretty dress and lacy things”

“Yes, yes, I’m going. Gosh you’re impatient”

“I like”


“Lacy things”

“N-N-Not me?”

“Smells good”

“Thank you”

“Not yer, them things”

“Oh! Are you going to-to- force yourself on me now?”


“How horrib- Wait… what?! You’re not.”


“B-but why not?”

“I gots me a new dress”

“What are you doing? Wait! Careful with those, you’ll wreck… Oh my!”

“How do I look?”


“In me new lacy things and pretty frock?”

“Your frock? You don’t want me?”

“Nah, got me a frock. I’m gonna go pick up”

“Well I never!”

Stacey is left standing in the middle of a deserted street completely naked. She is left unharmed, yet strangely deflated after her robber took off with not only her clothes, but also some of her self-esteem.

And that my friends is a very absurd example of what comes out of my brain! If you give it a try, share what you come up with! It’s harder than it looks!

9 thoughts on “Exploring realistic dialogue

  1. Dialogue can make or break a novel. I love the way yours ran so fast and carried me along with the story. Well done! 😀

  2. Made me smirk. Then chortle. Then guffaw. 🙂

    I wrote one for a class that was 100% dialogue, that was fun. I love the way dialogue can pull you down a page and keep the pace going. Dean Koontz is a real master at fast dialogue like your example. Bonzer! (Does anyone use that in Australia anymore?)

    • Haha! That’s a great reaction Tony! 🙂

      I have only read one of Dean Koontz’s books but I don’t remember the dialogue, just that it scared the pants off me. ( I was only about 12 at the time!)

      I don’t know anyone who uses the word bonzer, but there is a shop in town called bonza bangers! It sells sausages/bangers as its primary fare 🙂

  3. This was a fantastic use of dialogue to tell the story. Very inspirational.

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