Write a story told only in dialogue
- This can be a dramatic scene, designed to be read by two actors or it can be a story with ‘he said’ ‘she said’ dialogue tags.
- With only two voices it should be possible to avoid using any dialogue tags at all, but you’ll need to work to keep the characters’ voices distinct.
- Try to reflect, in their language, how they are feeling instead of relying on ‘stage directions’ (she said, nodding encouragingly).
- Show agitation or excitement by making the language choppier. Like this. Really. I can’t believe … how could you?!
- Allow characters to ramble when they are prevaricating, but try to avoid excessive use of “um” and “er”. Instead, let them go off on tangents, avoid the point.
- Allow your characters to speechify (speak in a formal, unnatural style) if you want, but be conscious about it and consistent. Hey, it worked for Shakespeare and Aaron Sorkin!
- Alternately, try to keep the voice of each character as realistic as possible. Remember that people talk at cross purposes, they interrupt each other, they don’t answer each other’s questions directly, worst of all, they often fail to listen to the other person at all because they’re planning their next riposte.
- Try to pick two characters who reflect different outlooks or ages or stations in life (imagine the Dowager Countess talking to the cook. It’s more than just accent that sets them apart, it’s word-choice, rhythm, relative confidence, expectation, assumptions about life…)