Friday, August 26, 2011

Friday's Writer's Tip - Revision - Dialogue

How does one revise dialogue. Carefully, of course. Dialogue is more than the words characters say to each other. Dialogue involves action, emotions and all the other aspects of writing. Sometimes the characters sound as though they're jsut people talking. Maybe true and maybe not. When you listen to people speaking there are a lot of pauses uhs, ahs and other little sounds that aren't dialogue. In books, dialogue is artificial hopefully sounding natural. Confusing. There are some rules about dialogue that can help.

Think action -when the characters are together think about action and reaction. Character A says something and Character B responds. But are the responding words empty or charged with energy.

Trimming the dialogue - Often when people speak in real life there are a lot of empty words exchanged. In a story all those empty words bog down the story. Think of a recent conversation you've heard where people say words to each other but a lot of those words are just make time words. Characters need to say what's important and forget the added words.

Making the dialogue dramatic. There's nothing worse than when a character pontificates and goes on explaining something that sounds more like a lecture than a conversation. I often have to look at my dialogue between characters and break those long passages down. Sometimes a character will say too much at one time and the reader isn't sure what's important in the long dialogue passage.

There is nothing wrong with saying said. If two people are talking you don't have to keep identifying the speakers, but you might want to show what they're not saying by their actions and expressions.

Next week we'll finish looking at how to revise your dialogue so you don't get remarks like occasionally editors have said to me. "Your characters all sound alike." "What you have is talking heads." Those are two remarks that have made me go back and revise smy dialogue. In fact, I don't hear them as much these days.

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