Welcome to day four of the Write On Sisters Blogging from A to Z Challenge. Today we BLASTOFF with D is for Dialogue.
This is ground control, come in Space Station! Repeat! Come in Space Station!
… Communication link disabled …
We don’t think much about how we talk to others until it’s gone. If you’ve ever gotten laryngitis you will know what I mean. It makes you feel helpless!
It seems counter intuitive, but we just can’t write dialogue the way we talk in person. Real verbal communication is full of non speech sounds and dull pleasantries. Here are some simple tricks to keep your crew talking.
3 Tips for Improving Dialogue:
Think about the communication goal. Why do these characters need to talk? Is it to show character bonding or fighting? Is it a way to transmit background information to the reader? Unless there is a plot-related reason for the exchange, your dialogue might be story filler.
Don’t use dialogue to tell the reader information they already know from the narrative. Instead use the dialogue to develop new story elements, increase the tension, build character relationships and bring in backstory components.
Don’t use tags carelessly. If only two people are talking you may not need any tags at all. In a group scene, consider foregoing tags in the early drafts as a great way of evaluating how successfully you’ve created distinctive character voices and physical tells. You will need some tags, but not as many as you might think.
2 Examples of good dialogue craft:
I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again here: novel writers should read plays and scripts. This is where you will find the best examples of clever, sharp, raw, inventive and boundary stretching dialogue. These are the writers that live to put words into characters’ mouths! Don’t cheat yourself of their wisdom.
Read Shakespeare. They are all good, but A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Much Ado About Nothing are my favorites. Yes, the language is archaic, but the timing, the banter and the quality of the conversation is just unmatched.
Read, watch or just live in the moment that was Veronica Mars. Not the movie; stick with the TV show. Witty, intelligent and able to stand the test of time, this show has some of the best dialogue ever put on TV. Or study Sherlock, another solid dialogue standout.