Something for everyone to consider when revising a dialogue is this:

  • Show something about your characters’ personalities in the thread. It doesn’t have to be a huge reveal–it can be something small; perhaps you share what their favorite cereal was when they were little or whatever.
  • One way to do this reveal is to create repetition in the dialogue. Suzan-Lori Parks does this in Topdog/Underdog and other work.

“What does it mean for characters to say the same thing twice? 3 times? Over and over and over and oh-vah.” 

Suzan-lori parks
  • As she says, the fact that something is repeated means that it isn’t just word-vomit. It means something bigger. Think about lyrics in all genres of music–there’s usually some refrain (otherwise known as the chorus) that trumpets the main message of the song. The one thing the writer wants the listeners to understand.
  • Another way to have your character reveal something is to NOT say what they mean. Think about a time when you’ve had to talk about something that you didn’t feel comfortable discussing. We often “talk around” uncomfortable topics by talking about something else, or use euphemisms in place of specific words.
  • One more way (not the final way) that I’ll mention here is using action to share something. This would be a good place to use stage directions. If someone puts their arm around you, that can say so much, and of course, your reaction depends on the context of the action. 🙂

Try it! See what happens!

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