Have you ever had one of those great writing moments when everything flowed out of you so fast you felt as though you were simply the stenographer sitting in a courtroom and doing your best to keep up with everything as it was thrown at you?
Yeah, me neither.
But for those who have, there comes that time when you go back to what you’ve written and read it over. Mostly you’re happy with what you have, but why does everyone sound exactly the same, especially in their dialogue?
If this has ever happened to you, you may recognize that you lost track of the voice of your character in the haste to get the words down, and now you have to go back over all your dialogue and re-create your characters’ voices. So how do you do that?
Well, I was kidding before; this actually happened to me with my first story, and in the rush to get the words from my head out my fingertips and onto paper, my characters all started to sound… well, sorta like me. And that was bad. None of my characters was anything like me in the slightest, so you can see the problem.
What I found helpful was to actually speak the dialogue as if I were the character. It may sound overly simple, but you’d be surprised when you put yourself inside the head of your alpha male protagonist how written dialogue can sound so wrong once it’s spoken.
For example, is your protagonist going to walk into the house and say, “Good gracious, what is that smell?”
Maybe not… but I probably would.
No, your alpha male is going to stalk in to the room and ask, “What stinks?”
Speaking your dialogue aloud will help you to identify when you’ve set your character on overly formal by mistake, as well. This happens sometimes when writers stop listening to their own characters talk, and they start using five-dollar words no one understands but them.
Another thing that happens with dialogue—especially back and forth between a male and a female character—is that the female characters can grow to sounds almost masculine, and the male characters sound more feminine. By speaking their dialogue, you can hear where you may have shifted your character’s voice and fix it.
These are just a few examples of reasons to read your dialogue aloud. Plus, it’s fun to get into the head of your characters that way. You never know what else you might learn.