The 5 functions of dialogue in a story

The 5 functions of dialogue in a story

Every day we spent a million words. There are several reasons to talk with someone, whether it is a colleague for work, a friend or anyone else. Sometimes we just talk to pass the time and make conversation.

On the contrary, in narration, there is always a good reason to talk and add dialogues.

So, what are the 5 functions of a dialogue? In general, they have a specific dramaturgical purpose.

Let’s see them in detail.

The 5 functions of a dialogue

Mainly, there are 5 different functions of dialogue in a story. These are recapped below:

  • Show a character through their voice
  • Advance the plot
  • Provide information about time and place of the narration
  • Break the monologue of the narrator
  • Use the flashback to present memories

#1 Show a character through their voice

The first one shows a character through their conflicts, silences and also contradictions.

The reader can better know all the sides of the character’s behavior, by understanding their background, past and inner self.

#2 Advance the plot

The second function is to advance the plot. As we have already seen in our journey through the narrative techniques, the “show don’t tell” one teaches that in a story it is better to show and not to tell. This is very useful to catch the reader’s attention and to maintain it at a high level. Read the insight about the “show don’t tell” technique.

But dialogues are also significant to create the storyline because thanks to dialogue the writer can easily bring the readers inside the scene. They also can interact with the character by understanding the use of the voice, the words and the way to act.

#3 Provide information about time and place of the story

Thirdly, a dialogue can provide information and details about the time and the place of a story.

When you read a dialogue, you as a reader can notice an increase in the rhythm of the narration. A scene is always described through the eyes and emotions of a character.

Besides that, through dialogue is possible to give details about the time of the narration. Vocabulary, expressions and idioms are fundamental to this goal. For example, in 1920 people spoke differently and with different terms in paragon as today. At the same time, many particulars about the place are given through dialogue.

Thanks to the accent, words and traditions, the reader can understand a lot about the location of the story.

#4 Break the monologue of the narrator

Among these three main good reasons, there are also other motives to make use of dialogues in the story.

If you think, a narration without dialogue is just a simple monologue of the narrator. The writer tells and sees everything from their point of view, without narrative breaks of any kind.

Descriptions, reflections, actions: everything is planned by the writer, without any other force coming into play.

For this reason, a dialogue can stop the repetitiveness of a long narration.

#5 Use the flashback to present memories

Dialogue through the narrative technique of the flashback can introduce and unlocks a memory, useful to better understand the present situation.

Flashback is a particular technique that allows the reader to live the character’s past and which explains well their characteristics, fears, and experiences.

Do you want to know more about the narrative technique of flashback?

Good dialogue illuminates what people are not saying.

Robert Towne

Use the innovative software of bibisco to use the 5 functions of a dialogue

bibisco is equipped with innovative writing software which you can use to add dialogues to your narration in the right place and at a right time.

As Stephen King said, “writing dialogue is not a simple job. It is more like art because “dialogue is what characters say. It defines who they are and what they’re like.”

To write dialogue correctly, you can take advantage of bibisco that helps you write the perfect dialogue for your characters.

Dialogue - What are the functions of a dialogue- bibisco's characters' section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s characters’ section


Dialogue is not an element to take for granted. It can be a very useful component of your story to catch your reader’s eye and be very difficult to realize.

There are different reasons to add dialogue in your narration. You only have to found the right one for you!

Starting from here, from the functions, we keep writing on dialogues and their characteristics in the next articles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.