Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Tuesday's Writing Tip - Dialogue

So what does today's picture have to do with writing tips, specifically, dialogue? Not much. I just thought I'd share it. This is a pic from back "home," in New England. This is what autumn looks like when it gets closer to Dec. 21 and the start of winter - cold, foggy, gray, and a little dull.

Dialogue can be challenging to some. It's one thing to talk, but another to write down every day talk to make your characters sound authentic. I really try to strive for a conversational tone when I use dialogue, but there are some things I strive NOT to do:

I try not to use "hey man," "Yo dude," and that type of slang or jargon. Sure, we may talk like this in real life, but a reader doesn't want to read a page of that.

Try not to have the characters address each other by name in every quote. For example:

"Josie, don't do that."
"Why not, Mom?"
"Because I said so, Josie."
"Aw, Mom..."

The repetation is hard on the reader. Besides, we don't really talk like that. Do we? (raises eyebrow)

The next thing I want to mention is dialogue tags. Don't put action in a dialogue tag. Put the action in a seperate sentence, usually before the quote. Try to only use "he said" or "she replied." You can add "quietly" or "softly," or some other adverb after the replied or said to get something across, but don't do it all the time.


"All right, mom," said Gus, looking at the ground, avoiding his mother.


Gus looked at the ground, avoiding his mother's stare. "All right, Mom."

Let dialogue move the story forward, not drive it forward. There's got to be a good BALANCE between dialogue and narration. Too much narration lends itself to "telling" a story. One of the best ways to "Show" a story is to use dialogue.

Hope those tips helped.

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