Well-written dialogue is probably my favorite thing about both reading and writing. And it’s something all of my favorite authors have in common.
The best dialogue, IMO, is natural sounding–not just to the time period the story is set, but also to the characters themselves. Anyone who’s ever had me edit a book for them knows I’m a stickler for natural sounding dialogue.
This involves using contractions–no matter the time period. Spoiler alert: Humans have always been lazy. This goes double for language.
It also involves not overusing the characters’ names. Think about it, unless we’re trying to get someone’s attention or make a point, we’re not constantly using each other’s names in conversation.
Another thing that drives me nuts is lack of dialogue consistency. If an author has established a character as a tough-talking cop, she’s shouldn’t suddenly start sounding like she’s a Dowager Countess from a historical drama. One of the ways that character is established is through dialogue.
This is just a short highlight reel of the best and worst of dialogue. I have five related posts that I’ll share the links to if you’d like some hardcore ranting and examples of do’s and don’ts.