Writing Stronger Dialogue: with Help from Anne of Green Gables

Hello, friends! Have you ever wondered what life would be like without conversation? Dialogue is an important part of life, as well as any story. Imagine what stories would be like without vocal interaction between characters! Yet, even something that sounds so easy can be hard to write at times. How to write it realistically? In this post, I highlight some tips I’ve learned from beta readers and reading books in a variety of genres.

Some Things to Consider When Writing Dialogue

What time period/country is the character in?

The time in history a character lives in can play a big part in their speech. An 18th-century woman in the city wouldn’t say the same things as a woman living in the city today. Don’t hesitate to do the research! Using colloquialisms and older words like lally-cooler and shoddyocracy to add depth and interest to conversations.

Another factor is the country they live in. Is the main language English? French? German? A made-up language like Tolkien created for the Lord Of The Rings? Adding words from that particular language adds an element of interest to a story, both to the dialogue and the setting.

What is their age and background?

No one says things the exact same way. A grandmother might say things differently than her 15-year-old granddaughter, while the neighbor’s toddler talks in a completely different manner. Our age influences the way we communicate. Consider adding some age-specific words into a character’s conversation.

The other aspect is background. This is one of my favorite things to work around. Anne from Anne Of Green Gables is a good example. She grew up virtually an orphan, caring for many little children. Her situation was far from ideal, and Anne was often lonely. She would talk to herself and imagine better ways of life, and her imagination – and thus her flowery speech – developed from those experiences.

How does their personality affect their speech?

My sister reminded me of this when I was outlining this post. All of us have little quirks about our speech that we don’t think about; it’s just a part of who we are. The way we pronounce the letter “r,” the little puns you love to work into conversation, and the way you say “wowsa” or “jeepers.”

Does your character love sci-fi? Or the Regency era? Maybe they read everything on the subject of fitness. See how you can work some of that aspect of their personality into their dialogue for a more unique character.

Anne Shirley is the perfect example here too. She’s an imaginative girl, and she uses lots of descriptive words and figurative language to convey her point. Anne personifies trees and brooks, and her love for imagination shows up in her conversations.

Dialogue is. . .


Dialogue and conversations should help move the plot forward. Not every conversation has to be a huge plot changer, but it’s helpful if they develop the characters, motives, etc. Conversations in Anne of Green Gables almost always develop the plot in some way, whether it be personalities, goals, or plot.


Read any conversation in Anne of Green Gables, and you’ll feel the realness of the characters. You see Marilla’s sensibility, Mrs. Lynde’s curiosity of everything happening in Avonlea, and Matthew’s shyness. They talk like real people, not like a dictionary. It’s easy to tell when dialogue is forced. It just doesn’t flow, doesn’t feel right.

Get some practice!

Listening to real-life conversations is a great way to get an idea of how people communicate. If you listen to conversations you have, podcasts, interviews, movies, etc., you’ll get a feel for how people use words to convey their personalities and ideas. You could even keep a notebook to write down favorite phrases you hear and words you’d like to use.

When trying to figure out how to write a character’s speech realistically, think about how you would say whatever it is, and fit that to your character. I’ve found this to be hugely helpful at time when I cannot figure how to write a particular quote.

Dialogue can be tricky at times, especially when a character is from a different time or a different age than you. Keeping these ideas in mind can help when a particular character just doesn’t seem to say the right thing.

What about you? What is your favorite thing about writing dialogue? Do you have any tips you’ve learned?


1 thought on “Writing Stronger Dialogue: with Help from Anne of Green Gables”

  1. Thank you for this post; it was so helpful! I often struggle with writing dialogue between characters, and especially making it sound believable. I love that you used Anne of Green Gables as an example of good dialogue. I am currently rereading it with my sisters, and I agree that the conversations between characters are so well-written, and they really convey the characters well!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.