How to Write a Dialogue
There are no particular rules for how to use dialogue in creative writing – just pay attention to the way people naturally speak in real life, and try to imitate it in your writing so that your characters will seem more three-dimensional and relatable.
To use the dialogue form in structuring an argument, it’s important to think through at least two possible viewpoints on your central question. Thus, the best topics for a dialogue-form essay are controversial topics like ethics, philosophy, and politics. Think about the different arguments that a person might make on a particular issue, and create a character to embody each of those arguments. To take a very simplistic example, you might begin with a contemporary political issue (marriage equality, universal healthcare, taxes, etc.) and write a dialogue between a conservative Republican and a liberal Democrat. Each character would present his or her views and then hear responses from the other.
The best dialogues, like the best conversations, are those in which the participants are really responding to one another. So, in the liberal/conservative argument, you want each of your characters to make points in response to the other’s, rather than having them simply expound independent arguments on the issue. In a good dialogue, readers can always tell that the characters are listening to one another.
When to use Dialogue
Obviously, dialogue in the broad sense should be used whenever two characters in your creative writing are talking to one another! It’s part of what makes them seem human and relatable. Dialogue plays a key role in creative writing.
But there are also times when it might help to use the dialogue form in writing arguments. If nothing else, it will help you zero in on the most controversial and ambiguous questions, which are always the most interesting ones to argue about! Be sure to check with your teacher/professor before writing a paper in dialogue form – teachers usually aren’t accustomed to receiving papers in this form, and may be taken aback by it unless you talk it over with them ahead of time!
Even if you don’t end up writing your essay in the dialogue form, thinking about a possible dialogue can help you make the essay better. If you imagine other viewpoints responding and raising objections, you’ll be prepared to respond to them and thus make your argument more convincing. If you can’t think of such viewpoints, then it might mean that your central point is uncontroversial – in which case there’s no need to make an argument in the first place!