Cheesy Conflict

by D.C.
(WX, Utah)

QuestionL Hello again, I've got ANOTHER problem. = ) The dialogue between my main character and a bully from school seems too cheesy, I figured that since I was bullied in school that I could just draw from that. But apparently not. What I'd like to know is how can I make it seem realistic and natural. I want my readers to feel bad for the MC not laugh along with the bully's friends. The conflict needs to be real. You know what I mean?


Answer: If you want the reader to feel empathy for the main character, consider providing more of his viewpoint. How does he feel when he hears the bully's words? What physically happens to his body? How does he react inside as well as outside?

Along the same lines, have you shown that your main character doesn't deserve the treatment he receives? Are there potential consequences he worries about that the bully is unaware of?

Even cheesy dialogue can carry weight if it means something real to the listener.

By the same token, try to put yourself deeply in the shoes of the bully. You may not share his point-of-view with the reader, but knowing it will help you write. If the feeling is right, the words will probably be right too.

That said, if you want to capture how kids these days talk (slang, etc.), the only way is to observe them, and that's time consuming. It's best to avoid slang unless you know you have it right.

Along the same lines, make sure you avoid cliched dialogue - no line from movies or slang from ten years ago. Cliches can make dialogue seem less real, especially in emotionally tense moments.

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