Writing Dialogue

Thinking RFID from @boetter
It would appear on the face of it that writing dialogue is easy. However, it’s not just a case of writing down the words spoken by our cast of characters, we have to consider whether the speech could be ‘told’ by us instead of spoken by the character. Is it vital that the character tells us, or can it be summarised.
If speech is important, the best way to see (or hear, to be precise) if it sounds natural is to read it aloud. That way we can feel if it flows correctly. When listening to conversation, we need to take note of the length of speeches, which generally tend to be on the short side, and to be aware that other people can interrupt another person, cutting their sentences mid-flow.
We shouldn’t use conversation to impart banal information such as weather. We should save speech to move the story along or to demonstrate how a character would react.
Years ago I joined an online critique group. One day we discussed the issue of he said/she said. I had a penchant for using alternative words such as ‘cried’. ‘exclaimed’ or ‘sighed’.. one member of the group told me that she’d never heard someone sigh words or exclaim words. Now I wasn’t very sure of myself back then (and I’m not super confident now…) and so I changed everything back to the plain he said/ she said. I then found myself reading novels by successful authors and I found that they also used alternative words as I had done. Henceforth, I now use a melange of both methods to keep the writing fresh.
It’s not always necessary to use any words after a conversation. If we’ve written it well enough, it should be obvious to the reader who is speaking.. However, if I have a lot of conversation to write between two people, I’ll occasionally mention who is speaking just so the reader doesn’t get lost.
We are forever learning as writers, but one thing I have learnt in this arena is that no one has the right answers. Nothing is cut and dried, and pushing the boundaries can enliven prose and enthral the reader. The more we read the more we learn, and as writers we need to continue down this road, so we have the best writing we can do to entertain our readers.
Happy Word Flow One & All.

Advertisements