Hello. Grab a seat and a coffee or tea, and relax. There are donuts and cookies on the tray. Help yourself.
Today I would like to talk about dialogue.
Dialogue is a great way to get to know your characters, show the setting, the theme and plot. Dialogue adds texture to the story elements, and coupled with action, helps pull the reader into your novel. The readers are with your heroine and hero as they argue, laugh, struggle to overcome their conflicts, and as they make love.
As great a tool as dialogue is, you must achieve the correct balance between dialogue, action, and narrative summary. The balance can vary from target audience, to genre of your story.
Also, conversations within your novel should be relevant to your story. If your characters are wordy and like to talk about mundane things such as the weather, and it isn’t important, then you may have to go back and cut and tighten. Your characters conversations must move the plot forward and contribute to characterization.
This brings me to dialogue tags or tag lines. Use them only when it is unclear who is speaking. If there are only two characters speaking, tag lines and dialogue tags may not be needed. Also, remember to break up large chucks of dialogue with beats. Show what your characters are doing. Remember, a large part of language is body language. Watch people around you in your real life and note how they use their bodies to speak.
Another issue to avoid is over explaining. What I mean by this is if the dialogue says it, no need to explain beforehand. This is another form of clutter that can be cut.
Example: Claire wasn’t sure he understood what she meant. “Do you understand what it is I need you to do?”
The dialogue above is all that is needed. It says exactly what Claire thought before she spoke.
When writing dialogue, try to make it sound as natural as real speech. Most people when talking use contractions and slang. Read your dialogue out loud to check if it sounds natural or stilted. Also, avoid the use of LY’s. Most times they are not needed. The dialogue should show how the person spoke. LY’s are a form of telling, and if written correctly, the dialogue should be able to stand without them.
Example: John brought his lips close to hers. “I love you,” he whispered softly.
In this sentence softly can be removed since a whisper is already soft, and it is save to say that since he is so close to her, he wouldn’t be shouting. Also, the dialogue tag is not needed. The beat before the dialogue shows who is speaking.
I hope this helps. Until next Saturday, happy writing.