In a perfect world of puppies and kittens, our characters would have concise and effective dialogue on every page of our novel. The protagonist and his or her buddies would be create subtext, forcing the reader to use their imagination to extrapolate meaning from intentionally missing detail. Words would be used judiciously; every word would push the story forward.
However, many writers still try to “write dialogue as they hear it,” in real life. This is not usually the best way to go about moving your plot from point A to point B. Still unsure? Record a random conversation and then transcribe it. Yes, you will probably stop halfway through due to boredom. Do you really want to inflict this pain onto your readers? Not me. I have few enough of those as it is. Why drive the rest of them back to their Netflix account?
Now, I overhear many interesting statements from caffeine-deprived patrons who drop by
the coffeeshop the NEMWC (Norfolk Early Morning Writer’s Center.) So far the winner is “I had married in a brothel, but it didn’t work out the way I had hoped…” Now, if I could just fit that into one of my novels. There’s a huge story behind those 16 words. Regardless, most of our true conversations would make for rather boring books.
The point: I have finished the first draft of the first chapter of Blood Lust. It is by no means the final version. First, I need to beef up the characterization of our man Parker. I know what he is like, but you readers don’t – unless you can read my mind. I need to add some physical actions, a bit more dialogue – all of which will create the alpha male character he is supposed to be. Hmmm. Mind readers. Interesting thought (no pun intended.) Some of my readers work for the government. For security, perhaps I should put my tin foil beanie back on?
Second, I need to take a step back and reread some books on the craft of writing. Just because you read something once, does not make you a master tradesman. If it did, I suppose I could read a book on karate and then consider myself a black belt. No, put the ego aside and pick up one of those books collecting dust on your shelf. There are tons of good books out there. We writers seem to collect them, but not necessarily read them more than once. But, it never hurts to review. I have two in mind, one of which is on my Nook, the other on my Kindle. Fortunately, I have both accounts linked to my PC so I can access them at any time. This takes care of the next several lunch hours! Facebook, thou shalt have to wait.
Having trouble with your dialogue? Think your story has well written dialogue? Check out Kristen Lamb’s blog, Warrior Writers, and the series of posts she recently published featuring guest blogger Les Edgerton. He has some very pertinent and salient comments on writing dialogue. You may be surprised. Great stuff, Les!
The point is – writing is a craft. It takes work, diligence, study and more work to create something worthwhile. And while I am justifiably proud of finishing the first draft of chapter one, I know it is far from being finished.
Time to put down the quill and put the cap back on the bottle of India ink (showing my age, yes) and do a little craft-improvement research.
TQ4R (Today’s questions for readers)
– How do you approach dialogue?
– Do you actively engage in activities designed to improve your writing skills? What are they?
Have a great weekend, people. I will be busy working on technical writing as well as reading those aforementioned references plus all of the related articles listed below. Should keep me plenty busy. See you in a few days!
- Les Edgerton Shows How to Write Amazing Dialogue – Part 1 (warriorwriters.wordpress.com)
- Dialogue, glorious dialogue – Instalment 3 of the Dialogue mini series (ofglassandbooks.wordpress.com)
- Good Dialogue And The Flash Fiction Story (pittsburghflashfictiongazette.com)
- Decoding Dialogue Writing: My Thoughts on Creating Natural Dialogue (crampedwriting.com)
- Les Edgerton Shows How to Write Amazing Dialogue – Part 2 AN EXERCISE (warriorwriters.wordpress.com)
- Differences in Narrative and Dialogue Writing (tracykauffman.wordpress.com)
- Les Edgerton & Two Tips to Take Your Dialogue to a WHOLE New Level – Part 3 (warriorwriters.wordpress.com)
- Dialogue Tags – Said is Not Dead! (writingbravely.wordpress.com)