How can you advise writers on dialogue? Firstly, I ask them to use their ear; read their dialogue aloud. Those who get it right have what amounts to a musical gift but, frankly, most of us don’t have a knack for it. It takes hard graft to get to a basic level, where the speech doesn’t sound weird. Successfully varying your style for each of your characters is a whole other ballgame. The most common howler I see is the educated-sounding blue collar worker, and I don’t think I’ve worked with a single writer who’s a whizz at teen speech.
Sometimes writers craft a series of staccato sentences in a stylised thriller style (that can get unbearably annoying if overused) while pairing this with grammatically perfect dialogue. Wrong way round surely? Who on earth speaks in perfectly constructed sentences complete with subclauses and connectives?
Other dialogue traps:
Dumping information and backstory into dialogue for convenience with no calculation as to whether this would take …