I’ve been doing a lot of editing this month (on my own projects, on freelance projects, and on submissions to my literary magazine). While there seems to be a split between authors who prefer working with description and those who prefer writing dialogue, I land on the former side of that canyon. If you’re like me, I’ve found dialogue-only read-throughs of a scene to serve as a helpful trick.
That is, read through a scene from beginning to end while ignoring everything that isn’t dialogue.
Does the flow of conversation make sense even without any clarifying description or internal monologue?
Are the voices distinct enough that you can tell who’s speaking without reading the tags?
Does the conversation advance at a natural pace?
Do any ideas or topics seem to repeat?
Sometimes, it’s easier to catch these issues while temporarily tuning out everything else. Give it a try if you’re looking to level-up your dialogue!