Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Do Ya Dialogue? (or I Hear the Secrets That You Keep When You're Talking In Your Sleep*)

*With apologies to The Romantics

Tip of the Day: Keep your library books til they're overdue, then gladly pay your late fines. Public libraries need you! Visit writerjenn's LJ to find out how else you can help!

Dialogue. Where would novels be without it? Not in my TBR pile, that's for sure. I LOVE dialogue. Live for it in books. In fact, when I'm reading something really good, I'll skim the fat paras of non-dialogue until I spot those beautiful quotation marks, and then I'll dive back into the story. I can't help it. I feel the biggest connection with characters through their dialogue and interactions with others.

Knowing how important dialogue is to my reading, I think about it a lot when writing. My personal struggle is having two characters who start to sound exactly like each other. To correct that, I'll give one character a slang term or phrase to use to help distinguish her. Does it work? Um, not always, but I'm trying!

To make my dialogue sound realistic and interesting, I imagine that the conversing parties are in the room with me and I'm eavesdropping. What parts would jump out at me and grab my attention? Those are the parts I want for my book, with the same tone and inflection that I hear in my head.

Something I've learned to look out for is not overusing characters' names in dialogue:

"Deena, stop rambling," Kate said.

"Kate, I'm not rambling," Deena replied.

"Deena, yes you are."

"No, Kate, I'm not."

As you can see, not very realistic. Dialogue should not be used as a shortcut for telling the reader who is in the room or who is speaking to whom.

To see if my dialogue is working, I'll often read it back to myself out loud. You know how sometimes you see a local commercial or cheesy made-for-tv movie and the acting is so bad you're cringing and genuinely embarassed for the actors reading the lines? That's what I DON'T want my dialogue to sound like when I read it back to myself.

That's all I've got for today. Go forth and write dialogue!

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing


Kate Fall said...

Ha, SciFi monster movies have been totally ruined for me because of the cringeworthy dialogue. Resulting in Sunday afternoons like this at my house:

Me: "I can't believe someone wrote that dialogue--nobody talks like that! Especially not an 18-year-old girl exploring the jungle in a skimpy tank top."

Long suffering husband: "I don't care. I'm just waiting for the monster to eat her."

Me: "But how can you listen to it? Don't you want to turn the sound off?"


Anonymous said...

Take your library books til there are overdue so you can pay late fines?????

Um, this totally disrespects other patrons who want to read that book. Try donating to your library fund or getting involved in local fund raisers. Ask your library-they'll have great ideas for you to help!

DeenaML said...

Kate: HAHAHAHAHA! See, your post below is why you write hilarious lines for your characters.

Have I said recently that I LOVE Mig and his lines in your wip?

Suzelle: True, true. What I should've said was, "Don't feel bad if you do need to keep your book after the due date in order to finish reading it. Paying your library fine is a donation to the library!" But at the Reference Desk when a patron asks if they can renew a book and they can't bc another patron has a hold on it, we often do tell them, "It's only 25 cents a day if you need a couple extra to finish it!" and often they take us up on our offer. :)

Kristina Springer said...

Ah-- the library fine thing bites me in the butt. When we go we check out like 30-40 things so a couple of days over and yikes.

Kate Fall said...

You seriously don't want to know what my library fines are like! It's completely embarrassing. In fact, I'd better go renew some stuff online right now ...

DeenaML said...

Hee hee Kate, I should totally sneak into your account and chastise you for your library fines. :)