How to Make Dialogue Sound Natural–Tip #1: Avoid Name-Dropping

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I ended last week’s post with the statement, “Make dialogue sound natural on the page…” But what does that mean?

One of the mistakes I see my students make is the extensive use of character names in dialogue. Just take a look at this snippet of dialogue, for example:

“Let’s go jellyfishing, Patrick,” Spongebob said one day.

“Okay, Spongebob. I love Jellyfishing,” said Patrick.

“Should we invite Mr. Krabs, Patrick?”

“No, Spongebob. He has to work today, remember?”

“Oh yeah. Thanks for reminding me, Pat.”

Here’s the same dialogue without all the clunky name-dropping:

“Let’s go jellyfishing, Patrick,” Spongebob said one day.

“I love Jellyfishing,” said Patrick.

“Should we invite Mr. Krabs?”

“No, he has to work today, remember?”

“Oh yeah. Thanks for reminding me.”

See how much more natural that sounds? So avoid name-dropping in your dialogue. It makes the writing sound corny.

I have a challenge for you. Pay attention to the people you live with. How often do they actually say your name on a Saturday when everyone’s home? I bet you’ll be surprised by how few times you use each other’s names.

This is something to think about when you’re writing a narrative.

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