Conflict in dialogue

Bell’s interview with Penn (2014), revealed one very important aspect to writing dialogue, and that is ‘conflict can exact the best form of dialogue from the writer, through the characters, to the reader’ (Penn 2014). Conflict keeps each participant of the story creation engaged, from the construction to the consumption. López also notes that, ‘dialogue should speak to the reader and must accomplish many things at the same time:


  • It must advance the narrative,
  • It must give, or further the characters depth,
  • It must also entertain the reader’ (2013, pp. 18-19).


Grenville (2011) recognises that, ‘dialogue is an artificial construction, designed to live on the written page’ (p. 120), and goes on to identify that ‘speech and dialogue are not the same thing’ (p. 121). This means that a verbal conversation will not translate fluently on the written page. Alterations to an actual conversation need to be made to draw the reader into the story, by allowing them to identify the dialogue as something they are able to imagine as real.

This information assists in the writing process, by allowing the story teller to play out the story, either mentally or physically, to produce believable dialogue for the reader.

Grenville, K 2011, Dialogue, the writing book, Allen & Unwin, London.

López, LM 2013, ‘Part 1: The Architecture of Story’, in G Harper (ed.), A Companion to Creative Writing, Wiley-Blackwell, Michigan,

Penn, J 2014, James Scott Bell: Writing fiction. improve your dialogue, video, viewed 12 April 2017,

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