Saturday, February 14, 2015

Survival Saturdays #8

Writing advice to help you survive that first draft.

5 Points on Writing Dialogue.


1. Keep your dialogue brief.  
Basically you shouldn't find yourself with pages upon pages of just dialogue. In storytelling you want to SHOW the readers what's happening, not TELL them, and dialogue can often turn into giant info dumps if you're not careful.  Don't have your character SAY they're angry, when you can SHOW it. 

2. Watch out for small talk.  
This comes in all forms. Unless it's crucial to your plot, try to avoid simple day-to-day chitchat. This is idle information that doesn't further the story in any way.  It just takes up space.  Also, try to avoid many short responses in a row.  Responses like "yes" or "okay" can also be expressed with a nod, or a simple gesture. (again, more show vs. tell.)

3. It can move the plot along. 
Dialogue is a fun place to reveal hidden secrets and plot twists.  Often times I like to end a chapter with a single sentence of dialogue that turns the chapter into a cliffhanger. 

4. It should reveal the speaker's character. 
The way your character speaks should reflect the type of person that they are. This can be done both directly and indirectly. This goes deeper than just an accent; their word choice is just as important. Not only that, but also the way they deliver their words as well.  Are they the type of person to speak gruffly? Kindly? Is your character quiet, or do they practically stampede everyone with their words?  However they come across verbally should be consistent with their personality. 

5. It should show the relationships among characters. 
The way your character speaks to his 16-year-old sidekick will probably be different than the way he speaks to his 5-year-old little brother.  Dialogue can reveal how one character might feel about another.  Be it:  love (happy Valentine's Day!), hate, disgust, fear, shyness...etc.  All these kinds of emotions should show through in dialogue.  This will help paint a more vivid picture in your reader's imagination of the dynamic between your two (or more) characters during a conversation. 

God bless,
~Amy Rochelle

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