Writing Dialogue

Posted on April 30, 2009. Filed under: novel writing, scene writing, writing dialogue |

Tonight’s Novel Writing class will center on writing dialogue. Writers often stumble on two points–the content of their dialogue and writing dialogue in correct form.
For many writers,the first is the more difficult to master. Good dialogue sounds like real speech, but isn’t. What does this mean? In everyday conversations, we tend to meander or get sidetracked. Sometimes we natter on about stuff that doesn’t matter. Not so with fiction. In fiction, spoken words must advance the story. Every word should be weighed for its contribution to the story. A writer cannot afford the luxury of chattiness and the kind of mindless talk that often fills real life.
The second area, correct form, is perhaps more easily learned. Any style book can show you correct form for dialogue. Look it up and use it. I’ll be handing out style sheets for correct usage in class tonight, but the most important rules are: Each new speaker gets a new paragraph and the quotation marks generally go outside the puncuation.
Writing Tip for Today: Look at your WIP. Read aloud a section of dialogue. Do you have dialogue that contains filler–the ums and ers, but also introductions, talk of the weather or something that has little to do with the story? Although you may think beginning a quote with “well” sounds authentic, delete it and then read it aloud again. Do you really miss it?


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