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Characters that own their Dialogue

Something I have been thinking about recently is dialogue. This may because I have been writing more recently with Go Teen Writers 100 for 100 challenge and because I am in Speech class.
Does your character own their dialogue?
What I mean by that is: Can you take the words that one character says and put them in another person’s mouth and sound the same. If you can, then you need to reconsider your dialogue.
Speaker tags and speaker beats point to person talking, but the words that they say should too. You don’t have to get nitpicky here. Words like “Yes” are going to be the same, but people have different ways of saying things. Dialect, Slang, and Jargon are examples of the differences in language.
An example of this is Mozzie in White Collar. His choice of words is so unique that if you looked at his language written, there would be no doubt that he was the one to say it. This is more Jargon.
Another example of this is Sherlock Holmes in Elementary. This might just sound different to me because he is British and living in New York. But, this is where context comes in. This is more Dialect.
Listen to the people around you. Think about the different ways to say the same thing. Think about the kind of people that your characters are. This will help you write dialogue that belongs to your characters.


  1. Great post, Alyson! When I read The Help, I was amazed by her characters' distinct voices. For each chapter the author said who was narrating, but after a bit I could have known even without the names.

    1. My mom has been planning to read that book. I love books where the characters are so unique. I can get into them so much more.

  2. Oh, Mozzie! What a great character on the whole. He is so developed!
    Great post.
    ~Sarah Faulkner

    1. Mozzie is like my all time favorite, but I just watched Casablanca and that dialogue is just amazing! Every word is so intentional.


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