Crafting Dialogue That Drives the Plot

Dialogue isn’t just about showing off your characters’ personalities or providing necessary information; it’s also a great tool to help move your story’s plot forward. By using dialogue effectively, you can introduce new events, create chaos and tension, and reveal secrets to keep your readers hooked the whole way.

How Dialogue Can Push the Plot Forward

You can use dialogue to reveal new information, create conflicts, and lead to decision-making events. They can have dramatic effects on the direction of your story’s plot. A character’s confession during a conversation can shift your story, steering it in a new direction that the reader wasn’t expecting.

It also makes for a great foreshadowing tool! Just think of Sarah J. Mass’ “A Court of Thorns & Roses” series. 

In book one, Rhysand, the apparent villain, says one line, “There you are, I’ve been looking for you.” 

But it’s not until book three that we discover just how important those few words really are because Feyre discovers that he genuinely had been looking for her for hundreds of years. It pivots the entire series.

Crafting Plot-Revealing Dialogue: Techniques and Strategies

1. A Bombshell Reveal: One character shares key information during a conversation that completely changes the plot’s trajectory.

Example: “You’re not my sister, Jane. You were adopted.”

2. An Argument: Use this strategy to form a heated discussion or argument between characters to ignite action or cause a dramatic shift in the plot.

Example: “I can’t believe you lied to me about who you really are! I never want to see you again.”

3. The Uncomfortable Truth: This involves a character sharing an uncomfortable or hard-to-accept truth, causing a significant change in the story’s dynamics.

Example: “I’m so sorry, Linda, but I’ve been in love with your best friend for years.”

Using Dialogue as a Tool for Conflict and Resolution

Well-crafted dialogue can be a potent tool to introduce or resolve conflicts in your story.

A heated argument can lead to a fallout between certain characters and set the stage for a new challenge to propel the story forward. But a calm and sincere conversation can help characters resolve their differences and overcome obstacles, which also aids the story’s direction in a different way.

  • Example of introducing conflict: “I don’t care if it’s risky, John. I’m going ahead with the plan.”
  • Example of resolving conflict: “I understand why you did it, Lisa. Let’s just put it behind us.”

Dialogue and Plot Twists: Keeping Readers on Their Toes

A sudden reveal or confession in a dialogue can serve as a compelling plot twist. This keeps your readers engaged and eager to find out what happens next.

Example: “You don’t understand, Mike. I’m the secret agent.”

Dos and Don’ts of Plot-Driving Dialogue

  • Do use dialogue to reveal important information that affects the plot.
  • Don’t use dialogue as a crutch to explain every minor detail in your plot.
  • Do make the dialogue relevant and impactful to the story’s progression.
  • Don’t make dialogue sound forced or unnatural just to drive the plot.

Remember, effective dialogue serves multiple purposes in your story. Mastering the use of dialogue as a plot-driving tool can significantly improve your storytelling abilities.