Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Tip O'Day for Writers #78

Guest blogger Dave Jeffery advises on writing dialogue.

Dialogue fulfills two important roles: it perpetuates the story and gives shape to your characters. Stilted and unrealistic dialogue distracts the reader and yanks them from the world into which you are trying to immerse them.

I tend to follow this process:

a. What message are you trying to get across?
b. Distill the message to its essence
c. Think of your characters
d. Ask yourself the question: "How would these characters put their messages across, given their personality?"
e. Write the dialogue with this in mind.

Giving your characters some vocal inflections, using slang, and providing other unique ways of expression can easily add shape to them. If done correctly, the reader will be able to tell who is speaking by the way a sentence reads on the page. This is particularly useful for short story writing where word count is a factor.
UK bestseller Dave Jeffery is author of NECROPOLIS RISING. He writes adult and YA supernatural and horror, as well as YA adventure, and nonfiction on mental health issues. His website can be found at http://www.davejeffery.web/

Dixon says - Many beginning writers struggle with writing dialogue, and try to avoid it, but few other aspects of fiction add the energy, mood and immediacy of dialogue. Instead of avoidance, plunge in!

Read authors who are known for their dialogue, and study their techniques. In crime fiction, Elmore "Dutch" Leonard, Richard Price and the late Robert B. Parker are masters.

Another great way to study dialogue is reading screenplays because they're... well... pretty much all dialogue.

After some of this study, sit down with a yellow pad and write a complete two-character scene that's all dialogue - no attributions, no action, no descriptions. Make it at least 3-4 pages handwritten or 2 pages typed double-space. Then show it to your critique group (if you have one) or share it with a few writer friends. Consider the advice you get, and then try to rewrite the scene in a way that is more dramatic, humorous, mysterious, or whatever message you were trying to get across. (See Dave's a thru e above.)

No comments:

Post a Comment