1 Story a Week is right. Dialogue is the make or break point of writing. For the reader. For the character. For the writer. Everyone. Why is it so important?
For the reader:
Dialogue is how the reader gets to know the character and what makes him or her special. What are her little tics or his way of speaking? Dialogue reveals more, in a more interesting way, than straight prose.
Dialogue also makes the page look more managable. A lengthy narrative looks like a lot of work to read with no paragraph breaks. Dialogue provides the quick breaks that make it seem easier, especially for children.
For the character:
Is the character believable? Dialogue answers that question. It also allows a narrative character to be described without the cliché mirror scene.
For the writer:
Dialogue also helps me get to know my characters. Something about the way a person interacts with others tends to reveal a lot about his or her make up.
Also, in addition to characterization, dialogue is a vessel for summarizing past events, reminding the reader of key facts, foreshadowing, aand so much more. And it does all of these things in an interesting way.
Writing great dialogue requires practice. Practice listening. Practice speaking. Practice writing. But, you know what they say about practice…