Dialogue is essential to your novel. Dialogue keeps a story dynamic, it can help dentify characters, it is a way of 'showing' instead of 'telling', and it shifts the tale forward.... Without good dialogue your story will die.
Okay, so I know everyone likes lists. To summarize my previous articles on dialogue I've made a list. Hope it helps a little.
- It could be that up to fifty percent of your novel is made of dialogue – half your book, so make it good, make it realistic.
- Characters should NOT indulge in chitchat. Every bit of dialogue should move the story onward. If it doesn't contribute in some way, scrub it out.
- Dialogue should NOT be true to life – people speak in garbled ways - it should just read as if it’s true to life.
- An easy way to check whether your dialogue is okay, is to record it. When you play it back, you’ll hear the shaky bits.
- Every central character should have their own unique ‘voice’ that the reader begins to recognize - their own overused words - but not TOO overused. Be discrete, don't make them sound like morons by too much repetition.
- The better you know your characters, the better the dialogue will be.
- To a certain extent, you can impart age and character with dialogue without having to explain things to the readers. Young people speak in a different way to older people.... but beware of using the latest 'in' words. Your novel might soon become outdated.
- Quality dialogue helps readers to become immersed in the novel.
- Keep your dialogue to short bursts. If a piece of dialogue entails more than one paragraph, it turns into verbal diarrhoea.
- Stay away from substitute words for ‘said’. Words like ‘affirmed’ ‘articulated’ and 'vowed', highlight themselves rather than how it's spoken. ‘Said’ is a small word that disappears and allows readers to concentrate on the story.
- Next post on 'Tell Me a Story', Bookworld.
Looking for your next read? Try:
SHORT MOMENTS - a collection of short stories that will jerk tears
PAST SINS - a contemporary women's novel