I love reading witty conversation. And I like writing it, too! But it’s kind of odd when, um… you don’t talk that much in real life? Like, HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO MAKE REALISTIC CHARACTER-SPEAK IF I’VE NEVER ACTUALLY EVER SPOKEN?? (Because I am a hermit who lives under a rock, I come out once a year to speak, briefly, before going back to my rock and my out-of-date electronics. But AHEM, back to the topic at hand.)
But then, isn’t everything in the entire writing process things-you’ve-never-actually-done-but-are-now-pretending-you-know-everything-about-because-your-character-must? Having considered this bit of information, I now consider myself an expert on how to write conversation (but only if you don’t actually speak in real life: THIS IS FOR YOU, FELLOW HERMITS!… if you speak in real life, please leave now because you will probably realize I have no idea what I am talking about), and am now offering you six ridiculous methods on how to write convincing, plausible, witty conversation that you and your readers will enjoy and find highly amusing (because it’s witty, not because it’s terrible).
1) FEED THEM PIE.
This always makes for a healthy topic of conversation. Especially when two characters have conflicting favorite flavors of pie. DEBATE TIME. (Also, the extra sugary-ness may contribute to why the conversation is not so much witty as hyper and confusing.) For the appropriate writerly inspiration, you should probably eat pie while you’re writing this scene (*coughapplecough*), just, you know, for the proper mood and theme and tone and stuff, and, uh, you know… research. Yes, that’s it. All in the name of research.
2) Pick up the nearest book and go to page 91. Point your finger randomly at someplace on the page, say “S IS THE BEST BLOGGER EVER,” (this is essential to the process) and use that sentence as a prompt.
If you didn’t say, “S IS THE BEST BLOGGER EVER,” while doing this
If you DID say, “S IS THE BEST BLOGGER EVER,” you will be granted wonderful conversation, and unicorns that flash the colors of the universe
Okay, okay. Narcissism aside (it’ll probably work either way), this method actually works. Don’t steal names (unless the name’s like John, then it’s not theft, but don’t call your MC ‘Parry Hotter’ or ‘Won Reasley’ or anything like that), or places, or actual lines, or blah blah blah blah blah blah BLAH but draw inspiration from others’ work. I’m not telling you to plagiarize (DON’T DO THAT, BAD IDEA), but you can certainly draw on others’ work as inspiration or just use a random word on the page as a conversation starter. Another thing along these lines that works is using a Random Dialogue Generator. They’re ridiculous. I LOVE THEM.
3) THAT RANDOM CONVERSATION YOU WERE HAVING WITH YOURSELF IN YOUR HEAD ABOUT THE AWESOMENESS OF CHEESE? Yes. That one! It is fantastic. Write it down and feed it to your characters to make story fodder.
See, I know what you are thinking, my friends. I know exactly what you are thinking.
But really! Are you listening to music? What does your playlist make you think of? Are you cleaning? What are you daydreaming about? Write about what you’re thinking of. Turn your odd inklings into story fodder!
Is your stomach growling for pie? WRITE ABOUT PIE.
4) Talk about sad little moppets.
TRUST ME, this works. I KNOW AT LEAST ONE OF YOUR CHARACTERS HAS A TRAGIC PAST. Don’t you dare lie to me!
If they only have a tragic past and no other defining characteristics, giving them a love of either pie or the French Revolution works out rather well for all of you. Even better, make their tragic past lead to the French Revolution. And there shall be pie at the end! PIE. I like pie. I also like the French Revolution. In case you couldn’t tell. (You could.)
5) If all else fails, stage a conversation explaining why they don’t want to converse. This works PERFECTLY. Some of the time.
See, if you can figure out how to write this conversation without it dissolving into a mess and becoming a terrible writer of dialogue in the process, I will be most astounded. I might even offer you some of my pie.
6) Try the way normal, non-hermitic writers do it: go outside and listen to public conversation.
I ADMIT IT THIS ONE IS A JOKE. Never do this. Never. IT IS DANGEROUS TO VENTURE OUTSIDE YOUR CAVE. OR YOUR PARENTS’ CAVE. Don’t go outside. Stay safe. Protect yourself. We are hermits. We stay in our caves. Do this sensible thing. Stay indoors, and out of all direct sunlight. This has been a public service announcement from your local Hermit Safety Official (HSO).