Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A to Z Challenge: D is for Dialogue



Welcome to Day 4 of the A to Z Challenge

Many bloggers have chosen a theme for the A to Z.  My pledge since becoming a blogger is to post about writing, so for this event, I will being posting about what I've learned about writing a novel.

________

D is for Dialogue:  the conversation between characters in a novel, drama, etc.; a literary work in the form of a conversation.  (Dictionary.com)

All readers love dialogue on the page.  It’s easy to read, and means the action will be quick.  And let’s face it, long blocks of exposition can be annoying and make us weary.  While we sometimes tend to scan densely worded paragraphs, we snap to attention for dialogue.  It generally means we’re living in the moment, and the characters might be divulging important secrets.  Dialogue is a compression of the action and should somehow be connected to one of the character’s objective, what he wants at that exact moment in time, and it must always move the story forward.

Dialogue should be easy to follow, but this doesn’t mean you need a ‘he said’ tag at the end of every line.  In fact, you should use as few as possible, only enough to keep the reader on track.  Incidental action is a good way to help the reader keep track without using tags, and it helps to infuse movement and emotion into the dialogue without using adjectives and adverbs.  But you also don’t want to bog the conversation down.

Most importantly, dialogue needs to have immediacy and tension on a gut emotional level.  It’s not that the information being relayed is all that important really, but that there is doubt about it, as well as the character delivering it.  It should be a tug-of-war, but we don’t necessarily want to know whether their argument will be settled, but rather whether the characters will make peace.  So find their emotional friction and exploit it, even if it it’s only a friendly disagreement.

Personally, I love dialogue that feels and sounds real.  (Yes, I use a lot of contractions!)  I always speak my lines of dialogue out loud so I can hear exactly what it sounds like, and therefore what it feels like to be with those characters.

So how do you deal with dialogue and
what do you want it to do for your story? 

22 comments:

Kyra Lennon said...

Dialogue usually comes quite easily to me, maybe because I am a chatterbox lol. I like to make it sound very natural so it's easy for the reader to enjoy. :D

JeffO said...

Guilty of overstuffing my dialogue with too much action.

Natalie Aguirre said...

I love dialogue too. I have to be sure not to having too much talking and enough doing in my stories. Great tips on dialogue. Thanks for sharing.

Chris Fries said...

Ah-ha!!! See? Given that we're doing the exact same A-to-Z theme for the exact same reasons, I KNEW it wouldn't be too long before we hit on the same topic on the same day!

I'm doing dialogue today, too, LOL!

Great minds think alike, huh? ;^)

I love what you've posted in yours -- Great thoughts and a great post, Nancy!

Bish Denham said...

I love both reading and writing dialogue. I like how I can slip in a little back-story or show a character's personality simply by how they speak and their mannerisms.

Texas Playwright Chick said...

As a playwright & performer, dialogue is one of my favorite things as well as my 'main tool'.

Great post! And, reading it out loud is the BEST way to make sure it sounds natural! Love it!

Cherie Reich said...

Good dialogue is essential to a story, I think.

I recently read a novel that had a great quote about dialogue, "...good dialogue has to advance both the story and the character, while providing a break from straight exposition."

Clare said...

Dialogue is something I'm trying to improve upon with my WiP, especially adding appropriate action around it.

Great tips. :)

Donna K. Weaver said...

I love to read books aloud to my hubby, so believable dialogue is critical because I try to read it like someone says it.

Carrie Butler said...

I love writing dialogue. It's the part that flows for me. :)

S. L. Hennessy said...

I like reading (or watching) some of my favorite examples of dialogue for inspiration. Joss Whedon for example is a MASTER of dialogue.
Great post and happy A-Z blogging.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I'm not always the best with realistic dialogue - thank God for a test reader who has mastered it. I think dialogue is really good for revealing backstory. More interesting anyway.

Eva Gallant said...

I'm finding your alphabet series to be very educational!!!

Lisa L. Regan said...

You're the one who is always fixing up my dialogue passages by asking me to throw in some of that incidental action! Excellent post and excellent series!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Nancy be sure to stop by tomorrow!

Sarah Pearson said...

I'm with you. Contractions are my friend :-)

Pa Ul said...

nice post for D
do check out my D at GAC a-z

Gina said...

Dialogue is indeed at the center of every good novel. I loved your post!

From Diary of a Writer in Progress.

KSCollier said...

Gotta get those voices out of my head and put it on paper somehow, and what better way than dialogue. Gotta love it, to write it.

Great piece Nancy, and congrats on the book coming out in December. I know you are excited.

A Daft Scots Lass said...

I don't claim to be a writer at all but my lips flaps all day in dialogue ...does that count?

Nicky Wells said...

I love dialogue. I get totally absorbed in it while writing it, often, like you, reading it out loud. Some of my characters would sound very much like me, in fact! Great post again, thanks.

Claire Hennessy said...

I'm enjoying your blogs in this challenge. I never to thought to actually say my dialogue lines out loud. How very obvious now that I think about it. Thank you. Great tip.