How To Make Dialogue Stand Out In Your Story – Baby, Tell It Like It Is

Kids say the funniest things. They are honest, even when it means embarrassing the people who love them. It is one of the reasons we adore them, quote their words, write the things they say in baby books and miss the baby years when they are grown.

When one of my boys was three, he looked up at me with adoring eyes and said, “Mommy, you are the biggest mommy in the whole wide world.” In the eyes of a three year old, bigger is better. I knew he was telling me in his own cute way that I was the best mommy in the whole world. That moment is tucked away in my cherished memories. Whenever I am feeling low, I remind myself, I am the biggest mommy in the whole wide world.

So, what can we learn from kid’s words as authors?

*Tell it like it is. In our character dialogue it is fun for the reader to hear the character tell it like it is. To say what they had always wanted to say in that situation, a tip I learned from Susan May Warren.  A solid dose of the truth in unique words adds flavor to our novels. One of my favorite lines of a character is when someone described another character as a ‘pipe cleaner with eyes.’ What a vivid picture.

*Say it through their eyes. Each character has their own view of the world. The things they say are a reflection of their thoughts and the way they see the world. In three year old words, bigger is better. In your character’s POV they filter things through their experiences, intelligence and values. Their dialogue should reflect who they are and what they value.

*Unexpected Over The Cliché. Avoid clichés in your dialogue. Make the words unexpected. If a character is a product of the seventies, find a way to add that flare in their dialogue. If they love food, they may describe their world in recipe terms. Don’t forget to add a touch of humor to make us smile.

What is your favorite line of all time? (Either from a kid, a TV show, a movie, a book, etc.)



About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

14 thoughts on “How To Make Dialogue Stand Out In Your Story – Baby, Tell It Like It Is

  1. My favorite line comes from the mother of a boy who never quit talking. One day she said, “—-, if you say one more word, I’m going to run away from home.”
    He said, “Mommy, before you go, let me tell you one more thing.”

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    This is awesome! Thanks for sharing, Pat.

  3. Melissa Tagg says:

    Great advice, Michelle. I’m a classic movie quoter, so there’s no way I can pinpoint just one. But, I love it when Rosalind Russell says to Cary Grant in “His Girl Friday”… “You think I’ll do whatever you want just because of that ridiculous hole in your chin.” Total paraphrase, but I love the reference to his dimple! 🙂

  4. Michelle Lim says:

    That is a fun quote. I love Cary Grant…I think it goes with writing romance novels.

  5. jeannemt says:

    There are so many lines from books and movies that I love. One that I find myself actually quoting to my kids is from Anne of Green Gables. It goes something like this “Tomorrow is fresh, with no mistakes in it.” Love that thought.

    Love your thoughts too, on dialog. Especially how you described seeing/saying things through the specific character’s eyes. 🙂

    • Michelle Lim says:

      Jeanne, that must be a mom line. I love that line too and say it to my kids, “Tomorrow is fresh with no mistakes.” Wisdom from the Gables. Glad the dialogue thoughts helped.

  6. Erynn says:

    I love the movie “Win a Date with Tad Hamilton.” The character of Pete, played by Topher Grace reminds me so much of my husband. I love the line when the girl he loves has been going on and on about her dream date with Tad, and Pete just looks up and says, “I cannot remember a time before you were telling that story.” I love the unexpectedness. We quote that movie all the time around my house.

  7. Leanne Hardy says:

    I just finished the latest Newbery, Moon Over Manifest. Twelve-year-old Abilene quotes Moby Dick, when she says, “( I’m from) all over. My daddy says its not down on any map. True places never are.”

  8. Michelle Lim says:

    Fabulous quote! I love it. One of my favorite Children’s writers is Mildred Taylor. This quote reminds me of her.

  9. Andrea Nell says:

    Humm … So many great quotes to choose from!
    One that’s stuck with me came from a second grade teacher. One student said to another during an arguement, “I do not negotiate with 7 year olds!” I wonder where she heard that? 🙂

  10. Teresa says:

    I love the line from Monk where he says, “I like change, I just don’t want to be around when it happens”.

  11. Michelle Lim says:

    Great line, Teresa. I’m with monk on that one!

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