Dialogue - Sets the Pace

Dialogue is a conversation between two or more characters. What brings that story to life is the character. And what brings the characters to life is dialogue. Without both you have just a bunch of rambling words on a page. Dialogue must serve a purpose. Your story should advance the story and develop character. Dialogue reveals a powerful gift. It is as simple as listening to others around you. Be aware of your surroundings. Look for over use of words.

Does your dialogue flow? When your characters talk, does it seem comfortable, easy reading?

Weave dialogue within the story. Writers have a tendency to say everything all at once. This takes away the excitement and the reader will lose interest quickly. Action helps to break up dialogue. Characters should be believable. In their speech and their actions. They should spring forth from the page. Their tone of voice, the dialect and their occupation will shine a light on their genre. Each character will develop his/ her identity. Know the market your story will be targeting for. Be sure your choice of words, such as profanity, slang or stereotype fit your story.

Summarize Dialogue in many ways:

*Use plot and conflict to further dialogue along.
*Build suspense if the story needs it.
*Well-developed scenes.
*Establish the time period.
*And very important, have well-developed characters, as life like as they possibly can be.

What I try to do when I travel is watch other people. Take notes of everything around me. Watch lots of movies and TV programs. I listen to lyrics and above all continue to learn the craft of successful writing.

I hope to hear from each one of you. Share with me how you create good dialogue.



Joan Vincent said...

You've given very good points on dialogue, Sharon. I always think of "show, don't tell" in regard to dialogue. Sometimes narrative seems easier but dialogue will always be more expressive and demonstrative about your characters. Knowing them well and the time they live in is so important. I was reading a scottish historical last night that was set in the 12th century but the whole book sounded 20th century with no attention to language except a "willna" thrown in at odd places. I threw the book in the wastebasket this morning.
Your habit of observing is one of the best ways to study dialogue--at least I have found it so.

Roxann Delaney said...

I love writing dialogue. Could that be because I wrote plays when I was 10 and then was involved in theater in high school and after?

I'm lousy at description and usually have nekkid characters that I have to go back and dress later. I can go on and on with introspection, but I also understand it slows down the pacing, so I usually have to go back and cut some. Dialogue seems to suit me best and helps me understand my characters.

How does someone learn pacing? Think of it as rhythm. As Joan said, good dialogue demonstrates characters. Funny or sad, it really is the best show, don't tell.

Jeannie said...

Dialogue is fun for me, mostly because of a misspent youth parked in front of a television set. British accents remain among my favorites.

Dialogue is a good way to dispense those tons of information that we discussed in the blog on information dumps. A lot of that stuff that is so overwhelming all at once can be doled out as precious tidbits revealed from one character to another in dialogue.

Nice informative post, Sharon. Good to see you're feeling enough better to join us.

Pat Davids said...

I believe well paced dialogue is the key to a great romance. Amanda Quick is a master. So is MaryJane Davidson. I'd love to write like that someday.

Great post, Sharon. I do tend to have talking heads. Later, I go back and add action or discription, but I like diagloue because it makes my page count go up fast.


snwriter52 said...

Ladies thanks for sharing. I wasn't sure if my blog was worth writing. I'm still under the weather with pneumonia. I'm coughing less, have a voice finally and no temp. I'm staying in bed and drinking lots of fluids.

Jeannie said...

Know what you mean about being under the weather, Sharon, but don't worry. Your blog came out very well.

Continue to take care of yourself, and get well soon.

Starla Kaye said...

So, Sharon, if you were a character at this point with a bad cold or pneumonia, your dialogue would be mainly hand signals. Perhaps some of that more "silent" dialogue might not be too nice, considering you might be in a surly mood.

Good blog. For me, dialogue makes the story. I don't particularly care about great scene settings. And I want very little narrative in an enjoyable story.

Nina Sipes said...

Good article. I'm awful at dialog. My characters don't speak to each other much. The humor is in their heads when they think about what they are seeing. I like it, but it isn't standard writing. I did manage to get twice as much dialog in the second novel as the first and maybe this next one will be even better. I hate reading period dialog because it is so disruptive. However, I noticed that some writers write their period dialog pretty intensely to begin the book and then relax it a bit as the story progresses. I've been told they do that to 'set the scene' and then when the reader is immersed in the story, relax the dialog for pacing. I don't know, I'm still trying to figure dialog out.

Penny Rader said...

Hi Sharon! Dialogue is what comes easiest to me. My first drafts are mostly dialogue, then I have to go back a few times and layer in everything else.