Characters Have a History





We all share a history and a dynamic with those we know, whether it’s ancient history or that of sitting next to one another at a writing conference for two hours last month. Maybe you were a student at one of my classes. So we have a particular dynamic. Maybe I bought shoes from you last week. And that’s a different dynamic. Something happened before this moment. So we relate to one another in that context. And so do your characters. Are you starting to see a pattern here, with regard to dialogue? Characters ARE us. They have the same contextual relationships in their lives that we do. If you remember but one thing about writing great dialogue, remember this: a truly great character is only differentiated from a real, live human being because they exist as words on paper first.


A few questions to ask your characters in a scene:


● How long have you known the person you’re talking to?

● What do you want from the other person in this moment?

● What are you trying to project?

● How will that particular “you” help you get what you want?

● What is your mood in this moment?

● Where were you just before this scene?

● What do you have to do next?