The Fall 1975 issue of Paris Review featured an interview with novelist John Steinbeck. He won the Pulitzer Prize and was a Nobel laureate, and The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men are still required reading in many English and literature classes. I'm sharing six tips from that interview (culled by the excellent Brain Pickings blog), with a few additional comments by me. This is the last of six:
"If you are using dialogue--say it aloud as you write it. Only then will it have the sound of speech."
This was also advised by Kurt Vonnegut in the previous series of tips. As well as saying it aloud as you write it, get somebody else to read it aloud as you listen. Ask them not to act too much. If you don't have a willing friend, use your computer's text-to-speech function. The voice will be somewhat robotic but it will still be worthwhile to hear the words spoken. Doing this is even more important for people writing screenplays or plays.
(Mark Twain had advice for writers, too, as did Anton Chekhov, Kurt Vonnegut, Jane Austen, and many more. You'll find it my book, Your Creative Writing Masterclass, published by Nicholas Brealey and available from your favorite bookseller.)