Here’s an Oldie But Goodie post on dialog!
Everything I Need to Know about Middle Grade Novels I Learned from Jurassic Park
At one point in Jurrasic Park 1, the main characters are all sitting together and they’re asked their opinion on the idea of an amusement park for dinosaurs. Each one gives a very revealing answer about their characterization. We can see clearly that each main character has his or her own unique voice or way of talking.
Math guy: Everything is chaos.
Grandpa: I spared no expense!
Dinosaur Guy: You’re talking about creatures I’ve researched who aren’t capable scientifically of living with people.
I have been having a difficult time creating a unique voice for each of my characters for my middle grade novel. This is a second book under contract in a series and I remember I had the same difficulties when I was writing the first book. This book has an all-new cast of characters, however, so I’m not limited to the voices I created for the first book.
So I decided to try an experiment. In my mind, I sat all my main characters down together and asked them a question that was important to the plot in my book—just like what actually happened in the scene in Jurassic Park.
To my discovery, only one of my main characters had anything unique to say. The rest were just me talking through them. Bo-o-oring. I realized I needed to develop each of their voices and give each main character distinctive dialogue that reflects the 3-D characterizations I’m developing for them.
Try it yourself. Whether you’re writing a picture book, a chapter book, a middle grade novel, a young adult novel, or any manuscript that uses dialog to create a scene, ask all of your main characters the same question. Be sure the question is about something that is important in the story. Listen to how they answer. If each of them doesn’t respond in a unique, different way, work on developing their voices until they do!