“Character and thought are merely obscured by a diction that is over brilliant.”
(Poetics, Part XIV)
We’ve discussed Aristotle’s biggest insights when it comes to good dialogue, that it’s always in the service of a character’s immediate goal and that it therefore has subtext.
But there remain a few more important points to make:
I always bristle when I hear a student say he has a great line of dialogue, but he just doesn’t know which character to give it to. Guess what? That is not a great line of dialogue. Dialogue only works when it is precisely what a specific character would say in a specific situation to achieve a specific goal.
So create the scene’s circumstances first, then