9 Aspects of Dialog, from Author Cecil Murphey


When I heard New York Times best-selling author Cecil Murphey (90 Minutes in Heaven) was doing a workshop for the writers group I belong to, I wasted no time in signing up.

How better to learn about writing than to be taught by a multiple, best-selling author? During the day, he taught on dialog. Here’s part of what he shared.

In all novels, dialog must accomplish 1 or more of the following tasks.


  1. Must have a purpose.
  2. Advances the story, furthers the action.
  3. Develops/shows the character.
  4. Shows emotional state of speaker.
  5. Conveys needed info succinctly.
  6. Brings immediacy to prose. Makes readers feel they are part of the scene. They “hear” the dialog with the character.
  7. Builds suspense and intensifies plot.
  8. Controls the pace of your story. It’s a speed control device.
  9. Can sum up: a character can explain in a few sentences to another person who wasn’t present during the action.

Thank you, Cec Murphey, for your permission to share these 9 aspects about dialog! Be sure to visit his Writer to Writer blog for more meaty advice on writing.

In the coming days, I’ll be diving deeper into writing dialog. In the meantime, how do you feel about dialog? Love it, hate it, dread it? Leave your comments below.


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