How to write better dialogues—Lola Shoneyin, By Solomon Oladipupo



Award winning author and poet, Lola Shoneyin, has said that listening to people’s conversations can help writers improve writing of dialogues.

Shoneyin stated that the way some dialogues are written do not reflect the way people really talk.

She stated this Thursday while speaking to undergraduates on The Business of Creative at the GTCreate Convention organized by the Guarantee Trust Bank (GTBank) in the University of Lagos (UNILAG).

She said, “Come out of your comfort zone. Listen to conversations, do gbeboroun [eavesdropping]because it always helps you to understand dialogue, and the way that people really talk.

“A lot of time, the way we write dialogue are not the way people really talk.

“Record your conversation one day, may be aunt and your mum. Take it, go and write it out; see how you would write that conversation.”

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives novelist also listed other pertinent tips for improved writing to include extensive reading, master classes and having a network of writing partners.

“So, the first one is read, read, read,” she started. “Read widely, read everything. It will get to a point where you would like only some specific types of writing.”

“Then keep reading those book, keep expanding your horizon and broadening your mind.

She also advised that writers, “Attend workshops and masterclasses and readings.

“Try to always develop a community around yourself. So, if nobody in your family is interested in your writing, find friends that are interested.

“If none of your friends are interested, by the time you start searching if there is a creative writing group in your school, you will find one.

“Hang out with those people. Have specific time that you mix with them and talk to them. Also, share your work with them. You can be somebody’s writing partner—they read your work, you read theirs.”

A 2011 nominee of the Orange Prize for Fiction, Shoneyin also stated the need for persistence as a writer seeking to break through the literature industry.

She advised undergraduates not to be taken aback by rejections.

“You will get rejections, take them in your slide, and submit to someone else.

“Amend it, look at it, re-evaluate, then go back and submit again. You basically build a CV, and that is what is going to be on your CV.


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