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#316761 - 05/23/07 11:00 PM Writing effective dialogue
elle Offline
Koala

Registered: 10/12/05
Posts: 2966
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
This week's article is on writing dialogue.

Have you ever found yourself tongue-tied in real life, and just wished you could be as eloquent as a character in a book?

Characters often need to be clearer speakers in order to carry part of the story along with their words, or give the reader some information in a more subtle manner than exposition.
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#316926 - 05/24/07 11:37 AM Re: Writing effective dialogue [Re: elle]
K i K i Offline
Jellyfish

Registered: 12/27/06
Posts: 180
What a great article! This is definitely something that I struggle with. Your tips and suggestions make perfect sense!

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#317085 - 05/24/07 07:55 PM Re: Writing effective dialogue [Re: K i K i]
elle Offline
Koala

Registered: 10/12/05
Posts: 2966
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Thanks! Glad you found it useful smile
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#317193 - 05/25/07 09:10 AM Re: Writing effective dialogue [Re: elle]
joanj Offline
Koala

Registered: 09/14/06
Posts: 2616
Loc: Texas
Thanks for the great article. I find writing good dialogue is hard to do. When I started out as a feature reporter at a small newspaper my editor told me ONLY use "he said" "she said" and for newspapers don't try and spice it up.

I hadn't thought of that for fiction writing but it makes sense not to be jarring or even annoying to the reader.

Joan


Edited by joanj (05/25/07 09:12 AM)
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#317552 - 05/26/07 10:40 PM Re: Writing effective dialogue [Re: joanj]
elle Offline
Koala

Registered: 10/12/05
Posts: 2966
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
One of the hardest things to learn as a writer is that simple and clear writing is usually the most effective writing. It's very tempting to show off your wide vocabulary and your flair for description - but many writers forget that the reader's imagination is involved in fiction too. Sometimes "less" really is "more".
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#317926 - 05/29/07 07:26 AM Re: Writing effective dialogue [Re: elle]
Vance Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Wolf

Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 5377
Loc: Gloversville, New York
I too thought it was a very useful article and years ago when I was writing a story and let someone read it, he told me to add something to "he said" or "she said" because it sounds like a third grader is writing it. He told to write things like, he said with anger in his voice or she replied with a quizzical look on her face.

So, taking that advice as gospel, whenever I wrote dialogue after that, I never simply used he said or she said without adding some kind of descriptive voice with it.

Thank you for the article.
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Vance Rowe

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#318149 - 05/29/07 09:30 PM Re: Writing effective dialogue [Re: Vance]
elle Offline
Koala

Registered: 10/12/05
Posts: 2966
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Thanks Amadeus. Your point reminds me of part of an article that's coming up on writing simply. (edit: that article is here. )

In very many cases you can rewrite the dialog to make the speech itself convey the anger or the confusion, or whatever. It's far more effective than "telling" the reader the character is angry. I've also read a few manuscripts where the writer has repeated himself, like: "I'm furious with you," the man said angrily.


Edited by elleCreatEd (05/31/07 04:14 AM)
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#318892 - 06/01/07 10:29 PM Re: Writing effective dialogue [Re: elle]
Vance Offline
BellaOnline Editor
Wolf

Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 5377
Loc: Gloversville, New York
I just read your article on simplicity, Elle and that is how I try to write my stuff. I try to keep it as simple as possible. I want to write for people to enjoy and get lost in it. I have read many books where you have to re-read a sentence or two to try and understand what the author is saying and if you do that and have to think about it, it takes the flow out of reading. That is why one of my favorite authors is John Grisham. It takes two or three chapters to get into the book, but once you are there, he keeps you hooked. It is hard to put down and when you finish it, you want to start another one right away.

However, I digress.

I guess my biggest problem in writing is not whether I am keeping it simple, I guess my biggest problem is mixing past tense in with present tense. That is what I have been told by people who read my stuff. They cannot really pinpoint it but when they read something, some tell me that it just doesn't sound right. However, once they get into it and see how my writing is, they have also told me that it "keeps their attention" and "its a real page turner" and that is what I want.

Another problem I have is re-reading or proof reading my own stuff. I am my own worst critic and if I start reading something, I usually have to change stuff. A lot of stuff. More times than not, I have scrapped the whole thing and started over.

One time I hand wrote a 500 page novel and trashed it when I was done because I didn't like it. I don't remember why but I just didn't like it.

Who knows? Maybe deep down inside I am afraid to finish a novel. Has anyone heard of anything like that? Is it normal to be your own worst critic? Do I need to seek a therapist? lol. Seroiusly, though, is there anyone else who is afraid to read their own stuff for fear of not liking it even after you have been told that it is really good?
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#320758 - 06/09/07 03:42 AM Re: Writing effective dialogue [Re: Vance]
elle Offline
Koala

Registered: 10/12/05
Posts: 2966
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
Yes, many people are afraid to finish a novel - because what comes afterwards usually looks like a big void. You've raised some interesting questions Amadeus, I will have to plan some articles on proofreading and self-critiquing.

I haven't seen the present/past tense mixing very often, but I think the reason is that when we tell someone about something that has happened to us, we tend to use the present tense, but past tense is most popular for writing novels. Have you tried to stick to present tense for any of your work? Perhaps it will be easier for you - it's a little unusual but not unknown, and some literary writers use present tense instead of past tense.
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