Sunday, August 10, 2014

Day 19 - Writing and Dialogue

The writing has been slow and steady. Chapter 9 (AKA Warnings and Watches) is complete, and Chapter 10 (better known as 1916) is on its way to becoming a fully realized section. Chapter 9 is highly dependent on the occurring dialogue, so I thought dialogue would be a good topic for discussion.
Anyone who has attempted to write dialogue knows it can be tricky. Good dialogue can transport the reader into the mind of the speaker, offer insights into the character, and help solidify story elements such as location and time period. Conversely, reading poorly written dialogue can become the literary equivalent of getting a root canal – something to be avoided at all costs.

Personally, I have a few tricks I use to try to improve my dialogue.

1.  I take a page from Steinbeck and read what I write aloud. Sometimes I even enlist my kids to read the conversation I write, which often works even better. Hearing the words out loud is one of the best ways to catch inconsistencies in voice, over-use of dialect and/or accent, misuse of dialogue tags, and gaps in flow. 

2. I eavesdrop on conversations when I’m in public. I promise this is not nearly as creepy as it sounds. Really listening to the way people talk to one another is a fantastic way to learn about writing dialogue. Pay attention to the age of the people talking, the pace of their conversation, and pauses and fillers used (e.g. umm, like, ya know, ETC). While writing dialogue and transcribing it are two totally different things, listening to people converse in the real world can help make fictional conversations feel more realistic.
     3.  In the same vein as #2, I also watch people in public. (Again, not as creepy as it sounds.) Conversations do not happen in a vacuum. People move around. They gesture. They make faces. They engage in movement and action. A conversation written without these things will feel flat and fake.

As with most things related to writing, there are many great resources to help writers improve their dialogue-writing skills. Here are a few of my favorites.

1.  10 Easy Ways to Improve Your Dialogue from Ali Luke on write to done.

2.  How to write dialogue that works from Creative Writing Now

3.  Speaking of Dialogue by Robert J. Sawyer on

If you are struggling with dialogue, you must be diligent about searching out ways to improve your dialogue skills. As with all things writing, the more you study it and the more you do it, the better you become.
Until next time. . .
Good Day and Good Writing to you all!

Novel Stats – pages: 69; word count: 19100

No comments:

Post a Comment