27 Common Dialogue Mistakes in Writing

In their quest to master the art of writing, many aspiring authors often struggle with one crucial element: dialogue. Whether it’s crafting realistic conversations or avoiding common mistakes, mastering the art of dialogue is pivotal in creating engaging and immersive storytelling. In this blog post, we delve into the realm of dialogue, exploring 27 common mistakes writers make and how to avoid them. Join us as we unravel the intricacies of dialogue writing, helping both novices and seasoned writers improve their skills and captivate readers with compelling conversations.

27 Common Dialogue Mistakes in Writing


Dialogue is an essential component of storytelling, as it allows characters to communicate with each other and drive the plot forward. When done effectively, dialogue can showcase individual voices and add depth to the narrative. However, many writers struggle with common mistakes that can make their dialogue fall flat or appear unnatural. In this article, we will explore 27 common dialogue mistakes in writing, with practical tips on how to avoid them and elevate your storytelling.

1. Lack of Purposeful Conversation

Effective dialogue should serve a purpose within the story. Each conversation should move the plot forward, reveal character traits, or provide valuable information. Avoid indulging in idle chit-chat or dialogue that does not contribute to the overall narrative.

2. Ignoring Character Intentions

Characters should have clear intentions and goals when engaging in dialogue. Their dialogue should align with their motivations and desires, adding depth to their personalities. Neglecting to consider character intentions can make the dialogue feel disconnected and unrealistic.

3. Underutilizing Subtext

Subtext refers to the deeper meaning beneath the surface of a character’s words. It adds complexity and intrigue to the dialogue. Avoid relying solely on explicit explanations and on-the-nose dialogue. Allow your characters to say one thing while subtly indicating another, creating a sense of intrigue and depth.

4. Lack of Contrast Between Characters

In real life, people have distinct ways of expressing themselves. The same should apply to your characters. Ensure that each character has a unique voice, mannerisms, and speech patterns. By incorporating contrast between characters, you can create compelling dialogue that engages readers.

5. Dialogue not Connected to Desire Line

A character’s desire line refers to their overall goal or objective throughout the story. Dialogue should be connected to their desire line, allowing them to communicate their motivations and intentions. When crafting dialogue, consider how it aligns with the character’s objectives and desires.

6. Neglecting Character Wants

Understanding what a character wants is crucial in determining how they speak. Their dialogue should reflect their wants and goals, shaping their conversations with others. Consider the character’s needs and desires when writing their dialogue to make it more authentic and impactful.

7. Lack of Purpose in Each Line

Every line of dialogue should serve a purpose. Whether it reveals something about the character, advances the plot, or adds tension, each line should contribute to the overall storytelling. Avoid filler dialogue that does not move the narrative forward or add value.

8. Unbelievable Dialogue

Dialogue should reflect how real people speak. It should be natural, conversational, and believable. Avoid using overly formal or stilted language unless it aligns with a specific character’s voice. Pay attention to the cadence, vocabulary, and tone of each character to make the dialogue more authentic.

9. Ignoring Characters’ Unique Voices

Each character should have their own unique voice that reflects their personality, background, and experiences. Pay attention to vocabulary choices, dialects, and speech patterns that are specific to each character. This will differentiate their dialogue and make it more engaging.

10. Lack of Subtext or Hidden Agendas

In real life, people often hide their true thoughts or emotions. Adding subtext to your dialogue can create tension and depth, as there is more happening beneath the surface. Each character should have a hidden agenda or something to conceal, making their dialogue more intriguing and layered.

11. Overemphasizing Dialogue at the Expense of Action

While dialogue is essential, it should not overshadow the importance of action. Balance between dialogue and action is crucial in screenwriting, as it keeps the story dynamic and engaging. Incorporate meaningful actions and reactions alongside dialogue to create a well-rounded screenplay.

12. Lack of Variation in Sentence Structure

To avoid monotony, vary your sentence structures when writing dialogue. Mix shorter and longer sentences, use complex and simple structures, and incorporate rhetorical devices like parallelism or repetition. This will add rhythm and flow to the dialogue, making it more engaging for readers.

13. Overusing Contractions and Colloquialisms

While contractions and colloquialisms can add authenticity to dialogue, be mindful of their frequency of usage. Overusing contractions and colloquialisms can make the dialogue feel forced or clichéd. Strike a balance that feels natural and aligns with each character’s voice.

14. Neglecting Transitional Phrases

Transitional phrases, such as “however,” “on the other hand,” or “meanwhile,” can help create smooth transitions and indicate shifts in thought or tone. Incorporate these phrases in dialogue where appropriate to enhance clarity and flow.

15. Dangling Modifiers and Misplaced Phrases

Dangling modifiers and misplaced phrases can lead to confusion and unintentional humorous effects. Proofread your dialogue to ensure that phrases and modifiers are properly placed and clearly convey the intended meaning.

16. Neglecting to Show the Passage of Time

In a screenplay, time transitions are crucial for clarity. Dialogue should indicate the passage of time without explicitly stating it. Time indicators such as references to past events or future plans can help anchor the reader and enhance the storytelling experience.

17. Lack of Authenticity in Technical Dialogues

When incorporating technical dialogues, such as discussions between professionals in a specialized field, authenticity is paramount. Conduct thorough research and ensure that the technical jargon and terminology used are accurate and realistic.


Effective dialogue drives the story forward, showcases individual voices, and adds depth to characters. By avoiding common dialogue mistakes, such as lack of purpose, ignoring character intentions, and neglecting subtext, writers can elevate their storytelling and engage readers on a deeper level.


  1. Why is purposeful conversation important in dialogue?

    Purposeful conversation drives the plot forward, reveals character traits, and provides valuable information to readers.

  2. How can I make my characters’ dialogue more authentic?

    Consider their unique voice, background, and experiences. Pay attention to their vocabulary choices, dialects, and speech patterns.

  3. What is subtext, and why should I incorporate it into dialogue?

    Subtext refers to the hidden meaning beneath a character’s words. Incorporating subtext can add depth, tension, and intrigue to the dialogue.

  4. How can I balance dialogue and action in my screenplay?

    By incorporating meaningful actions and reactions alongside dialogue, you can create a well-rounded screenplay that keeps readers engaged.

  5. Are contractions and colloquialisms important in dialogue?

    Yes, they can add authenticity, but be mindful of their frequency of usage to avoid making the dialogue feel forced or clichéd.

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