bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Tin Drum by Günter Grass July 21, 2015 - 1:29pm

I was interested to see if anyone else on here had a method for how they go about writing dialogue for their characters. I'll share mine, and then maybe you can share yours.

First, from what I've been taught, there are 4 main dialogic moves.

  1.  offer (give)
  2.  request (take)
  3.  inform (give)
  4.  question (take)

It's helpful to figure out which one ostensibly fits the best, but which one based on the subtext and unspoken tension in the scene is the one that's actually going on. There's more often than not one move that's buried inside of another, especially when you consider how complex and weirdly disguised and dishonest actual conversations and social exchanges can often be.

It's my belief that conversation between characters should be ostensibly convincing, and yet it should also have complexity and double meaning behind it that helps to advance the plot or to show the reader something about the characters.

I'm not a master or anything, but these are some of my own rules and some naked dialogue between two of my characters to help illustrate the rules. These characters, Erik and Drita, are siblings from Staten Island, NY. They're on the phone discussing a third character, Jimmy, who is Drita's ex-boyfriend. He cheated on her. She punched him.

Erik: “You want him dead?”

Drita: “Erik.”

E: “I was joking—Jesus!”

D: “You sound just like dad sometimes. You know that?”

E: “You want me to break his legs?”

D: “If I wanted his legs broke, I would've broke 'em.”

E: “What was the damage?”

D: “It would've just been a black-eye, but I guess I broke bone. The doc says I collapsed his eye socket.”

E: “You went to a fuckin' eye doctor with this piece of shit?”

D: “His mother called me. They want me to foot the bill—he's gonna need cosmetic surgery or some shit. Got crooked eyes now, crooked like his soul. That's what I told her.”

 

D: “How is this not 'I told you so'?”

E: “Where's this eye doctor?”

D: “I don't want you to hurt him.”

E: “I just wanna know where his eye doctor is!”

D: “Not an eye doctor. A doctor looked at his eye.”

E: “Well, maybe I wanna look at his eye. His mommy wants his eyes to match, right? Maybe I can help.”

D: “I gotta go to class.”


1) Resist the urge to have one character respond directly to what the other one says. Figure out what goes unsaid and keep it that way.

I think in some of the dialogue I've written that I've been happiest with, the characters give almost no direct responses to each other. Most people listen to what you say in conversation, think of something related, and hold on to that thought to respond with once they see your mouth has stopped moving. There is not as much need to make the connections between things explicitly stated.

E: “Where's this eye doctor?”

D: “I don't want you to hurt him.”

E: “I just wanna know where his eye doctor is!”

VS.

E: “Where's this eye doctor?”

D: “If I tell you where he is, you're just gonna go after him, aren't you? I don't want you to hurt him.”

E: “No, I'm not going to hurt him. I just wanna know where his eye doctor is!”

Making explicit connections between dialogue is unnecessary. It feels and sounds clunky. It's not realistic. It's not how people talk.

In the first version, Drita doesn't need to explicitly state that she's not going to answer her brother Erik's question, nor does she need to state the fact that she's worried about Erik's intentions, or that this worry is the reason why she won't answer the question. Furthermore, Erik doesn't need to directly respond to the allegation that he would hurt Jimmy. All of these things are obvious to the both of them and can go unspoken. Let the characters speak as though they're the only ones in the room. Or in this case, the only ones on the phone.


2) Break grammatical rules.
Writing and narrative writing especially is a wholly different discourse from speech. The words people choose, the vocabulary that's accessible to their minds right away to choose from, patterns of language, kinds of sentences—it's all very different from most writing. What I notice with a lot of writers is that their dialogue has tendencies to wander at times into formalities and grammatical accuracy and consistency -- things that are good and correct in all other areas, but don't sound quite right as speech. If I have to, I'll write multiple lines of dialogue, find the one sentence that captures what they're really trying to say, and I'll omit everything else. There is a tendency to over-explain, to give too much grammatical connection to what was said before, and to use a narrator's voice instead of a convincing, casual voice of someone in conversation. There's something about writing dialogue that it doesn't sound natural unless it's very imperfect. People use different tenses in the same sentence or same story/explanation when they talk, they repeat words, leave important words out (especially certain verbs and pronouns), make grammar errors, singular/plural incongruities, dangling modifiers, smooshing words together and making contractions that aren't really contractions (e.g., here are = here're). For realistic dialogue, make mistakes. Combine present and past tense in the same sentence. Break the new-known contract. Bad grammar in general.

E: “You want him dead?”

D: “Erik.”

E: “I was joking—Jesus!”

D: “You sound just like dad sometimes. You know that?”

E: “You want me to break his legs?”

Here, I'm breaking the new-known contract when Drita brings up their dad, and then Erik ignores her and says “his legs”. I don't have Erik explain that the male pronoun “his” is still referring to Jimmy and not to their father. It's grammatically incorrect, but it would also be awkward and unnecessary for Erik to clarify that he's still talking about Jimmy.

Breaking these rules and doing things like combining different tenses brings more realistic dimension to the dialogue (in my opinion).

D: “If I wanted his legs broke, I would've broke 'em.”

Drita is already speaking pretty informally/casually and taking grammatical liberties with an if/then sentence, saying “If I wanted his legs broke, I ...” instead of “If I wanted his legs to be broken, then I...”. To make this even more colorful/realistic, I also could've omitted the word “if” and combined present and past tense:

D: “I want his legs broke, I would've broke 'em.”


3) Build in room for misunderstanding and assumption. & 4) Figure out what the characters expect, ignore, and tolerate from each other.

E: “What was the damage?”

D: “It would've just been a black-eye, but I guess I broke bone. The doc says I collapsed his eye socket.”

E: “You went to a fuckin' eye doctor with this piece of shit?”

D: “His mother called me. They want me to foot the bill—he's gonna need cosmetic surgery or some shit. Got crooked eyes now, crooked like his soul. That's what I told her.”

E: “I just wanna know where his eye doctor is!”

D: “Not an eye doctor. A doctor looked at his eye.”

First, Erik's already assuming that Drita hit Jimmy. He asks her what the damage was, not if there was any. She's not explaining that she punched him, how she did it, when, or why. She's also not explaining or giving Erik any steps or story that lead up to the doctor's medical opinion. She's focused on the fact that she hurt her boyfriend as badly as she did. She doesn't tell a story about hitting him, only about the intensity of it, because this is what stuck with her about it. She does feel bad that she fucked the guy's face up. She leaves everything else out. She purposely holds back the story about the mother telling her she needs to pay for it. It's an 'and wait, you're not gonna believe this!' kind of story.

Rather than Erik responding to what she's saying, he has an emotional reaction to the content. First, he's not upset or surprised that she hit Jimmy, or even that she hit him so hard that she basically broke the guy's face. He's upset at the idea of her possibly still being gullible and pitying this manipulative bastard and feeling bad that she hurt him. I'm showing Erik's cards here because he clearly thinks the guy deserved it, and worse. Drita's given him sparse details and he's filling in the rest of the picture. Because he's so worried and protective, he's hearing it as though she was there at the doctor with Jimmy when this was said. He also makes an additional assumption filling in the details when he calls the doctor an eye doctor. “You went to a fucking eye doctor with this piece of shit?” I make the call here about what Drita expects from Erik and ignores/tolerates, since she doesn't choose to correct him about the fact that the doctor was not optometrist until he says it a second time.

D: “How is this not 'I told you so'?”

E: “Where's this eye doctor?”

Here, Erik completely ignores the “I told you so” remark. He expects Drita to be defensive and ignores it. He's being very dismissive of her feelings here and just continues to press her to tell him where he can find Jimmy so he can take care of it for her his way.

D: “You sound just like dad sometimes. You know that?”

E: “You want me to break his legs?”

Again, here I show the reader that Erik is used to Drita talking about their father. He expects and he ignores it when she brings him up and compares the two of them.


5) Sacrifice details and accuracy for point of view wherever possible
It's easy to be tempted to do exposition in convenient dialogue. If it doesn't come up naturally, don't force the character to say it. Often times, the things you're trying to do exposition on are communicated to the reader anyway. When you try to do exposition in dialogue rather than letting the characters speak, things like this happen:

E: “Where's this eye doctor?”

D: “I don't want you to hurt him.”

VS.

E: “Where's this eye doctor?”

D: “I don't think I should tell you. You know what a bad temper you have. I don't want you to hurt him.”

It's unnecessary exposition. The fact that Erik is ill-tempered will come out and be apparent to the reader without making the characters narrate that fact. It's already implied when Drita's first assumption is that Erik will hurt Jimmy. The fact that Drita doesn't think she should tell Erik is implicit in the statement “I don't want you to hurt him.” It goes unsaid.

Another example...

E: “I was joking—Jesus!”

D: “You sound just like dad sometimes. You know that?”

VS.

E: “I was joking—Jesus!”

D: “You say you hate him, but you sound just like dad sometimes. You know that? Both of you are always so shoot first, ask questions later.”

Something like this last line just completely ruins the exchange. First off, readers are almost always more clever than you think they are. Second, forcing the character to tell the reader something like this takes away from the character's point of view. It changes their motives. Going back to the 4 dialogic moves, Drita's question here could originally be read as either an inform or a request. She's more or less confronting her brother with the fact that the behavior she's finding undesirable is very similar to how their father would act, which is a likeness Erik finds undesireable. She's trying to provoke him. She's more or less requesting that he demonstrate how he's any different from their father. Third, this extra information just sounds bad. It's not realistic speech.

When you add in the extra exposition, it changes the entire flow and dynamics of the conversation. Drita's response goes from being a subtle and covert dialogic move hidden inside of another dialogic move, to being a simple, up front Inform. Now she's just doing the narrator's job. She's speaking to the reader and not to Erik. When you do things like this, you're letting the need to inform the readers override what the character's are trying to say to each other.


6) Make sure that you stray true to the emotions of the speakers.

Again, don't do what's convenient. Let the characters talk to each other. Be empathetic with them. What are they feeling? How will what the other character says make them feel? Make notes for yourself that take that into explicit consideration if you have to when you're drafting their dialogue.

E: “You went to a fuckin' eye doctor with this piece of shit?”

D: “His mother called me. They want me to foot the bill—he's gonna need cosmetic surgery or some shit. Got crooked eyes now, crooked like his soul. That's what I told her.”

Some of Drita's qualities are that she's head strong, stubborn, short-tempered, independent. She doesn't like other people to think she's weak. She doesn't like her brother to think she needs any help. In her response, she internalizes Erik's outrage with the way she's let Jimmy get away with treating her. He's making an assumption that she'd let Jimmy walk all over her and then be at his side to get him medical attention. So, she then says something that emphasizes her independence and indifference or negative feelings she has toward Jimmy. She's saving face by talking up how she's kicked him to the curb and is at the point emotionally where she can say “fuck you” to him and his mother.

D: “Not an eye doctor. A doctor looked at his eye.”

E: “Well, maybe I wanna look at his eye. His mommy wants his eyes to match, right? Maybe I can help.”

D: “I gotta go to class.”

Erik is saving face in some way at least after having the mistake he made about the doctor not being an optometrist pointed out to him. He has some kind of eductional chip on his shoulder. He's just as headstrong as Drita and as unwilling to admit weakness, so he's down-playing the mistake and up-playing the aggressive attitude.

Drita is getting frustrated with and tired of Erik trying to take care of her problems for her with this macho bullshit violence. She's already told him she doesn't need his help and doesn't want Jimmy hurt. It's annoying now. She's not going to keep repeating herself. She tries to drop the conversation altogether.

If you focus on how the characters feel, it brings some extra guiding logic to the direction the conversation takes. That's my thinking anyway. I concede that a lot of this can also be attributed to aesthetics and personal taste.

 

Anybody else have a method or any tips to how they write dialogue or maybe some dialogue that they're trying to figure out how to fix up? It could be fun to share and workshop it. :)

Scott Amstadt's picture
Scott Amstadt from Chicago is reading City of God July 21, 2015 - 3:46pm

Hello,

I appreciate the attention to detail in your guidance on writing dialougue.  I believe it could be a very useful template for anyone attempting to find reality in their conversations.  I especially identify with the idea of shifting focus from details and accuracy, and staying true to the characters that have created instead. 

Do you find yourself completely creating characters before putting them to page?  Do you find things in your dialogue that helps you define/redefine the characters?  How much of your own conversational experience do you apply directly to your characters?

My approach comes with two things in mind:

1.  Relationships

Words are important.  How we talk to our parents about something will obviously differ from how we talk to a co-worker, friend, or complete stranger.  I tend to develop my characters "from the feet up", which basically means I build their history, appearance, etc. first before letting them speak.  Then, however, I put them in the room with the other characters and let them talk to each other until they develop the relationships I can use on the page.  I'll write scenes between characters that will never be in the story that simply help me develop what they would or wouldn't say to one another.  From this sort of "rehearsal" I have a better working understanding of what those exchanges will look like. 

2. Improvise

I come from an acting background.  "Always Say Yes" is often something that runs through my head when fleshing out scenes.  Like above, I will let the characters "rehearse" their scenes while I focus on moving the plot forward through both verbal and non verbal cues.  Like when I was acting, this exercise helps me develop them and the story at the same time, leaving room for discovery along the way. 

These ideas may be obvious, but they've always satisfied me in the creation of realistic and effective dialogue.  For instance, I began writing something in a genre I haven't been familiar with, and was struggling to find a way to develop characters in different time periods.  It started as old photos.  It became a handful of characters.  So I began the story with one character being the protagonist, but after going thorugh some "Reharsals" I found much more interesting interactions with another character.  This discovery led to a re-work of the plot, higher stakes, and (hopefully) more compelling storytelling that follows guidlines akin to yours established above. 

Here's an example of where they are now, let me know if it sounds to "cheesy", though I am going for a pulp noir feel:

“Been a long time Eddie,” introduced the man. 
“Too long, Deck,” played Palm.  Not one man moved forward to extend hands or any other pleasantries.  Only dirt moved across their paths as the wind picked up.
“You wanted to talk,” said Deck with a sideways shrug. 
“I did,” offered Palm. 
The two locked eyes for a moment.  Arthur shivered in the pause, and at seeing Deck’s busted face, drawing attention of one of the broad shouldered beasts. 
“I wish you hadn’t,” Deck sighed, as he hung his head slightly. 
“How do you mean?” Palm asked, body tightening ever so slightly. 
“She’s gone, friend,” Deck’s eyes hardened and set upon Palm.
“What do you mean, gone?” Palm uttered in monotone.  His mouth went flat.  His right arm tightened.  His nose wrinkled at a small amount of dirt catching his face in the wind. 
“You were never going to have her, friend,” Deck said slowly, “you had to know she was playing you the whole time.”
“Were is she?” Palm asked.  Arthur’s stance wavered left to right and back as he watched the color leave Eddie Palm’s face.  The thugs that bookended Deck noticed, taking one step forward each, halted only by a raised hand from their master.
“Easy boys,” Deck ordered.  “She’s safe Eddie.  Somewhere even you can’t find her, well wouldn’t dare even go to get her.”  Deck’s eyes narrowed while his hands fell neatly into his pockets. 
“That’s not how,” Palm stopped and turned away.  He took a moment to look out into the black.  “That is not how this was supposed to go.  I took care of Milo, like you asked, then I got Bennett back without a hitch.  Nobody even noticed.  What the hell, Deck?”
“I know what you did Eddie, and I’m grateful,” he laughed and closed his eyes briefly.  “I also know what else you did.” 
Arthur started to shuffle in his place and look to Palm.  “Eddie, what’s he talking about?”
“What’d you think was going to happen?,” pushed Deck, with a look in Arthur’s direction.

Thanks for the guidance.  I hope more share it. 

-Scott

scottamstadt.com

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 21, 2015 - 8:29pm

Wow, that is a very detailed method.

Since you asked, I'm quite the opposite. If my characters feel real to me (and they pretty much do because I made them up) I just let it flow. Imaginary conversations (jouska?) is something I do a lot, so I kind of steer it toward a direction I want it to go so I can get whatever I want out of the dialogue. But you have to know who your characters are.

In fact, here's a thought: I'm thinking stiff dialogue means you're doing one of two things: either forcing the characters to do (say) something that they wouldn't, or creating a 2D character to just fill a roll, not be a whole person.

Or, on the flip side, sometimes I might discover who they are while writing dialogue in early drafts.

 

Another thing is to keep in mind just how many filler-isms (new term I just made up) people use. "I mean" and "well" and "look" and "I don't know" and "so" are all things people say a lot. Unless it's a serious guy who speaks less than everyone else. Little things go a long way. And it's not necessarily a dumb person who's going to say, "well, it's like, when you blah blah blah..."

L.W. Flouisa's picture
L.W. Flouisa from Tennessee is reading More Murakami July 22, 2015 - 3:02pm

In fact, dialogue is one of the few things I prefer to discover as I go. I also think the method ignores the subtler nuances of mixed dialogue. Like veiled requests, or hidden offers.

There are times when dialogue can truly be about nothing.

SConley's picture
SConley from Texas is reading Coin Locker Babies July 23, 2015 - 10:39am

There are times when dialogue can truly be about nothing.

Agreed. I like writing about people casually chatting when horrible things are going on.

 

Otherwise, just go with the Don Delillo method and have people talk through each other and not TO each other.

bethwenn's picture
bethwenn from Milwaukee is reading The Tin Drum by Günter Grass July 23, 2015 - 11:02am

Scott: It feels very film noir. I like it. This line: “Somewhere even you can’t find her, well wouldn’t dare even go to get her.” The punctuation was a bit confusing at first. I might rework it like this: “Somewhere even you can’t find her—well, wouldn’t dare even go to get her.”

The only thing to do with the actual content of the dialogue that I'd suggest needs work would be this line: “That is not how this was supposed to go.  I took care of Milo, like you asked, then I got Bennett back without a hitch.  Nobody even noticed.  What the hell, Deck?”

It sounds like you're writing a story that uses the element of mystery. Given that fact, I think you should cut some of the exposition in that dialogue. Try to figure out in that line what it is that both of these characters already know. What goes unsaid between them, that your character there is maybe saying explicitly in a way that's more of an aid to the reader than it is to either of them?

He's summarizing events. Take out the summary. Try to challenge yourself to write that line without summarizing. Replace summary with point of view and emotions about what happened. You might be surprised what you come up with, and your readers will catch on to what's happening and what's happened even if you don't spell it out for them like that. There will also be more mystery this way, and your readers might feel more satisfaction in gathering clues and inferring what happened on their own than they would feel if you simply spelled it all out for them.

 


Do you find yourself completely creating characters before putting them to page?  Do you find things in your dialogue that helps you define/redefine the characters?  How much of your own conversational experience do you apply directly to your characters?

If my characters feel real to me (and they pretty much do because I made them up) I just let it flow. Imaginary conversations (jouska?) is something I do a lot, so I kind of steer it toward a direction I want it to go so I can get whatever I want out of the dialogue. But you have to know who your characters are.

I run up a first draft for conversations as I go along. I write what I hear in my head. I feel the same way about hearing and making up a lot of imaginary conversations in my head. I do draw from real life experiences sometimes for dialogue, but not all that often. I get to know my characters and their voices by writing them. I like to figure them out in separate writing exercises before I begin writing them into the main action of a story, but often times the idea for a character comes to me in pieces, and a more is revealed to me about them as I get further into the story. It's hard for them to come alive without writing them. I do a lot of things to get into their heads though. My Spotify account right now is mostly comprised of playlists for my characters.

I like these ideas about the relationships between characters also, and imaginary conversations. How mine talk varies depending on who they're talking to. The kind of relationship they have with that person can also change the way that I approach the scene altogether. For one of my characters, I wrote a chapter recently where he's in dialogue with his father, and then later with his mother. My approach was the complete opposite for both of these. With the father, I had them both in constant disconnect. They wouldn't respond directly to each other. They both kept trying to have the conversation they wanted to and more or less ignored what the other had to say, unless there was an emotional reaction to it like anger. For the conversation with the mother, He's engaged with her and what she's saying, but she keeps creating disconnect. He'll respond directly to her, and then she moves onto another tangent of thought. For me, these things can be useful extensions of the characters' relationships.

A lot of these steps, I do second nature without realizing. Then I go back over the first draft once I'm in the editing stage and see if I can apply these rules to clear up any problems with the sound of the dialogue. Reading out loud is always a great way to identify any problems like that.

 


I also think the method ignores the subtler nuances of mixed dialogue. Like veiled requests, or hidden offers.

It's not really a method. Just my own guidelines. But that's where those 4 dialogic moves come in. Veiled requests and hidden offers are just instances of one dialogic move being hidden inside the one that ostensibly, grammatically fits, as I mentioned at the beginning. You can certainly combine all of these different approaches and elements together. It can actually be a lot of fun to play around with. For me, spelling things out that way just makes it easier and less mystical and frustratingly elusive when trying to figure out why certain things don't feel like they work, and also trying to come up with solutions to make them work.

MattF's picture
MattF from Tokyo is reading Borges' Collected Fictions July 23, 2015 - 3:44pm

Excellent post bethwen. I have to admit, I have no such systems, just feel it out. Maybe two general rules:

1) Dialogue can always be cut down, way more than people think.

2) Great dialogue almost always contains humor.

 

From your example:

Erik: “You want him dead?”

Drita: “Erik.”

E: “I was joking—Jesus!”

D: “You sound just like dad sometimes. You know that?”

E: “You want me to break his legs?”

D: “If I wanted his legs broke, I would've broke 'em.”

E: “What was the damage?”

D: “It would've just been a black-eye, but I guess I broke bone. The doc says I collapsed his eye socket.”

E: “You went to a fuckin' eye doctor with this piece of shit?”

D: “His mother called me. They want me to foot the bill—he's gonna need cosmetic surgery or some shit. Got crooked eyes now, crooked like his soul. That's what I told her.”

 

D: “How is this not 'I told you so'?”

E: “Where's this eye doctor?”

D: “I don't want you to hurt him.”

E: “I just wanna know where his eye doctor is!”

D: “Not an eye doctor. A doctor looked at his eye.”

E: “Well, maybe I wanna look at his eye. His mommy wants his eyes to match, right? Maybe I can help.”

D: “I gotta go to class.”

 

As you said, much of it boils down to aesthetics and personal taste. Personally, I'd go a little harder edged and cut some of the call and response: (i.e. "You want him dead?" "Erik.") A leaner, more hard-boiled version might read:

"Do you want his legs broke?"

"You sound just like dad sometimes."

"Do you want him dead?"

"If I wanted him dead, I would have killed him. I collapsed his eye socket."

"Dad never would have asked you these questions."

"I only meant to give him a black eye. His mother called from the doctor. She said he's going to need cosmetic surgery and she wants me to foot the bill. She said he has crooked eyes now."

"Dad would have just gone and killed the asshole."

"Crooked eyes like his crooked soul, I told her."

"Then he would have broken the mother's fat legs."

"Jesus, Erik."

"Where's the asshole now?"

"I gotta go."

"Dad called and wants to know where the asshole is now."

"I really got to go, Erik. I have a class in thirty minutes. Love you..."

In this version, they never actually talk to each other until the very end: they basically hold two separate conversations, which I think keeps the reader more on edge. With no call and response pattern, the reader never knows what to expect. The reversal of breaking legs, then killing, I think follows a more common 'stakes raising' dramatic pattern--and the sister being able to kill him seems more likely than break his legs. Same with asking where the eye doctor is: dramatically, it feels like an unlikely place to find the boyfriend.

But that's just my take. A much shorter version, with a slightly different relationship dynamic: they are less "I told you so" siblings and more their father's children perhaps. 

Nice to see some solid writing conversation, bethwenn. Keep it up.

 

 

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal July 23, 2015 - 5:40pm

Yes, guidelines is a much better word.

And since you mention it and I think about it, I'd say I also simultaneously know the character more as dialgogue (and plot) progresses, as well as knowing them to write their dialogue... kind of a self-feeding thing. Which I think brings us to revision...

Anyway, I think this is a good checklist to go through every so often to brush up one's skills.

SConley's picture
SConley from Texas is reading Coin Locker Babies July 27, 2015 - 3:41am

Love her or hate her, Lena Dunham is excellent at realistic dialogue. It's probably her strongest point, actually.

Thuggish's picture
Thuggish from Vegas is reading Day of the Jackal August 4, 2015 - 12:41pm

Just stumbled onto this...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=flthk8SNiiE&list=PLr8gKxewr_e1wF1uHBeIgu...

...and thought of this thread.

lizlazzara's picture
lizlazzara from Boston, MA is reading The Kills, To Show and To Tell, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, Understanding Schizophrenia. December 9, 2015 - 11:18am

This is fantastic advice. A lot of times, my instinct is to overwrite when I should let simplicity speak for itself, especially in cases where the reader can follow the dialog with fewer words/phrases/sentences. Thanks a lot!

SueA9378's picture
SueA9378 from Long Island, New York, USA is reading Always Something New by Indie Authors March 19, 2017 - 6:02am

I love the advice and I sometimes find I explain too much in the dialogue. Your example is great because you really did convey all those emotions and I can picture the conversation between the two with little or no explanation as to their relationship even the fact that they are siblings because of the father reference. Unfortunately, I have found sometimes that an author (usually a self-published author on Amazon) leave too much out of the dialogue and do not convey what is really going on. There have been times where I've read and re-read the dialogue, as well as a few paragraphs before and after and still, don't get what the author is trying to convey with the conversation.

Anyway, I think that these are great guidelines and I hope to be able to put them to use. I have this in my favorites so when I do run into dialogue issues I will definitely run them by everyone here! Thank you for this I'm taking notes!