One of the foremost tips for writing dialogue is to make each character sound different.
Easier said than done, right?
Recently, I was reading Lyndsay Faye’s novel Jane Steele, a modern retelling of Jane Eyre where Jane is a murderer. One of the many things I adore about Jane Steele is how unique and endearing so many of the characters are.
You could easily cherry-pick a piece of dialogue from Jane Steele and match it to its speaker simply by knowing the following:
- The butler, Sardar Singh: a man of careful words and prone to phrases like, “So often the way with _____.”
- The ward, Sarjara Kaur: an eager girl who references horses every other sentence at least.
- Mr. Charles Thornfield: openly bold, sarcastic, and teasing. He participates in exchanges consisting of mock insults, calling Sarjara “Young Marvel” or “tiresome changeling,” for example.
- Jane: has a tendency for foul, unladylike swearing.
This makes Jane Steele an excellent example of how to write distinct character voices. By giving your characters a quirk as to how they conduct themselves in conversation, you can make them vivid and memorable.