Since showing is the best way to reveal things in a novel, Ana dives into cadence.
The cadence with which a character speaks reveals (shows) his or her geographical, educational or social background. So does their choice of words as well as their grammar.
In Self-Editing for Fiction Writers (one of my favorite self-help craft books), Browne and King recommend reading dialogue aloud—something I’m starting to do when I edit. Reading out loud reveals places where the reader might trip over my wording.
“Passages of narration and description will read better once they have the sense of rhythm and flow you edit in while (or after) reading them aloud.”
I have also found that re-reading the next day is a good idea. Different phrasing or word choices often come into my mind. (This is a virtue that is readily applied to critiquing. Words or phrases that bubble up when critiquing may well be valid, and sometimes an improvement.)
With diligent attention to cadence, I am deleting places where I used skewed dialect spelling (for effect) as well as many dialogue tags. I’m striving for words that, as Browne and King write, “real people would actually speak. Explanations, -ly words, oddball verbs of speech, trick spellings—these can’t really help your dialogue because they don’t really change the dialogue. They take the place of good dialogue rather than help create it.”