Begin with Dialogue

“But, Mom, you never hear my side of the story. You believe everything  Kimberly tells you.” Stephanie stomped to the window in her room and kept her back to her mother. A tear slid down her cheek.

“Honey, I hear your side of the story every time, but it was wrong to tell a lie about your sister at school.” Janice sat down on the bed and tried to keep her voice calm. “Just because Kimberly talked to the boy you like doesn’t mean you get to make up things to make her look bad.”

“But she knew I liked him,” Stephanie whispered.

Janice walked over to the window and put her arm around her daughter’s shoulders. “Fighting over a boy and creating drama isn’t worth ruining your relationship. My sister and I were envious of each other at times, but it was her friendship that got me through middle school and high school. Let’s talk to Kimberly together and resolve this. I don’t want to see you two hurt each other over rivalry. We can trust God for the things we want—like a boyfriend—and still be good to those closest to us.”


Using dialogue to begin your book is a powerful way to draw the reader in. They step into a world already in motion, into a conversation that hooks their curiosity.

The dialogue above could begin a book about parenting teen girls. Did the first two lines make you curious about the context of the conversation? Did you want to see how this girl’s mom would respond to her?

For non-fiction books, consider using dialogue to hook the reader’s attention. Use a true story, or create one that fits your subject. If you use a story from real life, be sure that you have the permission of the people who are in it. Never use a private conversation unless you have permission to do so. If you have any flare for writing fiction, it can be fun to make up your own story. You could even begin each chapter with a fictional story that introduces your topic. I would name Chapter 1 of this parenting book, “Teen Drama,” and write a fictional story for the beginning of every chapter to show a “real life” scene in the life of a family with teens. It could get quite interesting.

If you use dialogue to begin your non-fiction book, remember these tips:

  1. Start a new paragraph when you change speakers.
  2. Mix short and long sentences to avoid a monotonous-sounding dialogue.
  3. Don’t make the conversation so long that it gets boring, and don’t bog down the reader with too much detail.
  4. Read the dialogue aloud to see if it sounds natural and intriguing.

If you make up your own stories, don’t forget to:

  1. Use wording appropriate for the age, background, and personality of your characters.
  2. Include just enough action between lines to liven up the conversation.
  3. Give your dialogue a setting—a house, crowded subway station, or lonely road.
  4. Stay away from unnecessary adverbs—what your character says will convey emotion better than if you tack an –ly adverb on the end of every he said or she said.
  5. Don’t clutter the dialogue with unnecessary small talk; get to the heart of the matter.

Let your reader jump into your book through intriguing dialogue. Harness the power of story, and use it to open the door to your world of ideas.

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