What are the four characteristics of good dialogue? According to novelist Irving Weinman, good dialogue: 1 Keeps the story going; 2 Reveals the characters; 3 Is believable; 4 Interests its readers.
That is a comprehensive definition of good dialogue and it is one that Weinman develops in his book. He includes indirect speech in his definition, and gives interesting examples of how indirect speech can work alongside direct speech with each one complementing the other.
Examples are a strong point of the book. There are many examples of dialogue at work in published material, used as teaching aids to demonstrate, for example, how dialogue merges with narrative, how to handle dialogue in crowd scenes, how to present dialogue in letters, how to handle dialect and foreign languages on the page, and many more techniques.
Whilst being a thorough analysis of all aspects of dialogue, the book is enlivened with case studies, focus points, and ‘try it now’ panels to make things even more interesting.