When we start writing, our dialogue can come out overly stiff or unrealistic. Along with: awkward, sappy, cheesy, cliche, cringe-worthy, terrible. . . If your character would really say "gonna" or "would've" or "settin'," LET THEM. Many people conjunct and speak informally in real life. I promise. Pay attention to the differences of the voices in your head (. . . yeah, I went there) so your characters don't all sound the same. Good dialogue stands out!
Here's an example from my OWN first draft of LAYLA AND THE HALF BLOOD HARPIES that I can ninja-kick apart. *flips through first draft* OH, THE EXPOSITION. (Tip: avoid exposition in anything you want people to read EVER.) Anyway. Snippet:
"Um, it's fine. Sort of."
He smiles a fraction at my lack of conviction. "Sort of, huh?" He thinks for a second. "Not a day goes by where I miss that."
I raise my eyebrows, and jealousy colors my voice. "Lucky you."One: don't explain WHY characters are doing what they're doing.
Two: what the characters say and do should eliminate the NEED for any explaining.
"It's . . . fine."
"You sound so convinced." His lips twist. "Can't say I miss any of that."
My eyes narrow. "You suck."(Okay. That's still not awesome. My first draft is un-salvageable, I'm thinking.)
*Tip: Next time you're out, LISTEN to the conversations around you. No brainer, right? Yeah. Except it took me until a month into a creative writing class to do that actively.
*Always Tip: Read. A lot. You'll find out for yourself what's "good" and what makes you wanna smack yourself in the brain-region.
And First Draft will find it's way back into the dark, spidery file cabinet for now. Back to writing!