Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dialog Tips & the Prompt for the Day

Dialog is a very effective way to bring life to a story; it helps you show what goes on rather than telling about it. Of course, it can go the other way if written poorly! So, what does make it work? First of all, you, the writer need to avoid those things called speaker attributions. They tend to distract from what the characters are trying to say. For example, "I told you I don't want to go!" she shouted. The word shouted... is it really necessary when you already see the exclamation point? "I told you I don't want to go!" she said. Here the focus is on the quote. And it works. If you don't believe me, check out those novels you have sitting on your bookshelves. I bet you don't see too many attributions other than -- he said, she said, or maybe he asked, etc. Another tip that goes hand in hand with speaker attributions deals with those dreadful "-ly" words. For example, "Susan asked quietly" "John spoke loudly". Avoid them, too. If you write your dialog effectively, you won't need fancy attributions. And if your dialog seems to be missing something without them, then rework your dialog. Bottom line? Dialog should "speak" for itself. (Okay, I know, I know, I shouldn't have... but it is funny. Corny, but funny.)

Now, enough of this instruction stuff. Let's have some fun. I think we should try another story. Let's add some interesting dialog. So, here goes....

"I'll tell you what you can do with it," she snapped....

3 comments:

_-*Kristen*-_ said...

"I'll tell you what you can do with it," she snapped. "You can listen to ME for once and not be so damn self absorbed all of the time." he gaped at her. "I don't have to listen to what you say, and I don't need to put up with your bullcrap all of the time, I will do what I want to do with or without your permission."

His face started to turn a bright shade of red. "You WILL listen to me. I'm only trying to look out for you. You don't know your limits."

"Oh and you do?" she said.

"Yes, I do, I know how much I can have."

"And how, pray tell, did you find out what YOUR limits are Mr. Man?" she called him that sometimes because he acted like he was the only guy left in the universe, so everything had to go his way.

"I tested them." he said.

"Well then, how do you think I will ever figure out mine if you dont let me?" She was practially screaming every word that came out of her mouth.

"I want to be there when you do it. I know what happens when people drink, and I dont want you to make a mistake."

"Make a mistake? MAKE A MISTAKE? what in the hell do you think I will DO? HUH? go off and screw some random guy that i've never met before? I'm not that damn stupid!"

"I know, but I want to be sure." he said.

"Oh, so you dont trust me then. I see where this is coming from."

"No its not that! Its just that I dont think that you should go and drink without me there!"

"So you think im irrisponsible then, AND you dont trust me! Fine! I see how it is."

>click< she hung the phone up on him. No matter what he said, she would live her life the way SHE wanted to, without his help dictating it.


*so this argument really happened, which is why i probably got into it more than i would have.*

_-*Kristen*-_ said...

oh by the way is it safe for me to add you to my blog link list?

teacherwriter said...

Kristen,

Yes! That would be great. And I will add you to my links, if that's okay.