Guest blogger Cynthia Echterling on making dialogue realistic.
Many authors will tell you to read - a lot. Well, when you get done with that, get off your duff and go out where there's real people. Listen to them! Eavesdrop on the drivers at the nearest truck stop, the young couple at Starbucks, the family with the unruly kids at McDonalds, old farmers at some small town restaurant, business types on their cell phones. It doesn't matter what they're talking about. Listen to how they express themselves. Notice the differences of regional dialect, ages, occupations. It's fascinating.
Realistic dialogue brings your characters to life.