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I confess, I have dialogue issues.

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I confess, I have dialogue issues.

I don’t stutter, nor do I have a lisp or any conversational problems. No, I’m referring to my inadequet dialogue writing skills. Having worked on my Nano novel a little this month, I realised something. I often find my dialogue to be limp and a little corny at times and turn around to read some of the most riveting dialogue with the result that I feel hopeless. I know my strong points in writing. I am great at descriptive writing,  I enjoy and am good at narratives and I am decent with opinionated writing. Dialogue, however is the weak, worn string in my high-performance bow.

My dialogue idol is Jane Austen. Unlike most other authors, she manages to make fairly bland conversations entertaining and engaging for the reader. “Pride and Prejudice” in particular showcases her brilliance with conversation. The characters become based on their conversations, the readers can learn about entire aspects of a character just by what they say. That is what I aspire to do with my dialogue. I only have to work out how.

A little help?

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About otakufool

I just want to let my opinions be heard, and let my writing be viewed.

4 responses »

  1. Become your characters. Then allow them to speak. And do
    not make them say things just to drive your plot. But don’t let
    them say things that don’t drive your plot. Still, I also find
    dialogue difficult.

    Reply
    • You bring up an interesting approach I’d never thought of before. It should give my writing a whole new dimension. Thank you so much for the advice. I’m going to try this method out and see how it goes.

      Although I don’t quite understand your other point of not letting the plot drive the dialogue and the dialogue drive the plot. Could you please explain a little more?

      Reply
  2. I’m glad you found something useful. I hope it works for you.
    What I mean by not letting the plot drive the dialogue is that writers’ can allow the story to dictate what is said. So, if for example, the characters are supposed to catch a bus in the story, the writer will make them say, “Let’s go catch the bus.”
    Instead, it may be more useful for the characters to go for a walk, and then to spontaneously decide to climb onto a bus while out on the walk.
    In both scenarios the characters get on the bus, but I find the way in which it happens in the second example more interesting and probably more true to the characters themselves. It doesn’t feel forced.
    Another danger is to make conversation just to fill space. I don’t think that is a good idea. Every word your character utters must be for a reason. If it is not showing more of their character or moving the story forward, they should not say it.
    Finding the balance of too much or too little is, for me, the hardest part.
    Anyway, hope that helped, and good luck.

    Reply
    • I did try out your advice and the dialogue came much easier to me. I also felt like the character was more realistic while I was writing as I was really writing from her point of view. Now that you mention it, I sort of do feel like I was letting the plot dictate what my characters said. Not quite so literally as in your example, but I was controlling them nonetheless.

      Your point about everything a character says being for a reason is great advice! I will really think about that when editing my novel.

      As for whether the dialogue is too much or too little, I find that if you read the dialogue out loud and start to feel bored, it’s too much. But if you feel that what’s been said doesn’t make sense when it’s supposed to it’s too little.

      Thanks a lot, your advice has been a lot of help to me! Hopefully I helped you in some way too. Thanks and good luck!

      Reply

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