Stop Writing Pointless Conversations. No, Seriously.


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I was in the bookstore the other day—my favorite place in town—and I was driven out by one awful occurrence: A pointless conversation.

Two people, one employee and one patron, sort of recognized each other. So, out of politeness for their fuzzy memories, they started the dreaded how-are-yous.

**Long, deep groan**

The conversation wouldn’t die. They went on to talk about the weather (how about this rain we’re having?) and living in this town (yeah, I really like it here) and generic news (can you believe what so-and-so said about such-and-such?)

I started weaving down the aisles and reading titles out loud to drown out their mundane dialogue. But monotone voices carry in a quiet bookstore.

I could only stand it for ten minutes. I left.

Why is this a pointless conversation? Because there was no value in anything they said.

These two people could have done something more worthy of their time. The patron could have spent her time finding a book in the store that would change her life. And the employee could have spent his time, you know, working.

Who really finds fulfillment in talking about the weather?

We’ve all picked up that book or watched that movie where there is a pointless conversation. It probably wasn’t about the weather, but it was at the same level of who-gives-a-hoot.

I’m not against talking about the weather. I’m against how it’s discussed.

Let’s define it: A pointless conversation is one that doesn’t invite growth of character, change of emotion or value to the task at hand.

So ask yourself this: Are your characters having pointless conversations?

State the goals of the conversation before you read over your dialogue. If your characters are talking only to fill up space on a page, then cut it. Keep only what drives character growth and plot.

How To End A Pointless Conversation

When you find a pointless conversation in your story’s dialogue, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Who starts the pointless conversation? Why?
  2. Who keeps the pointless conversation going? Why?
  3. Do the characters ever realize that the conversation is pointless? When?
  4. What do these characters really want to talk about?

If your readers start walking, then it’s time to get your characters talking…about something else.

Do your stories suffer from pointless conversations? How do you fix them? Share below.

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