Monday, January 17, 2011

Red Writing Hood - Dialogue (and bonus tips!)

The awesome thing about adding a third member to our group is now Nichole and I get to blame the new kid for diabolical prompts!

Actually, this one is TOTALLY her fault.

But I think it's a good one for us. I have read a lot of posts since we started here and I really feel dialogue is something we ALL can work on. Including me. Possibly especially me. I can write entire pieces without it, and that's not necessarily a good thing.

So your assignment this week - courtesy of Katie:

Hemingway was famous for his super sparse writing. He used almost only dialogue in many of his works. Write a piece in which you use ONLY dialogue. Then link up Friday.

Here are a few tips on writing dialogue:

1) Dialogue should move the plot along. It should not be used to explain something to the reader; it's the way to show, not tell. Ask yourself what the conversation does for the piece.

2) Pay attention to the way your characters speak. If they're from the Deep South, they probably shouldn't sound like Madonna (you know, with her British accent). Do they use slang? Are their words consistent with their age/background?  How they sound is almost as important as what they say.

3) Read aloud. Does the dialogue flow? Get rid of unnecessary words that don't add something to what you're trying to accomplish.

4) Always use a new paragraph for each speaker. And try to keep it to he said/she said. Anything else is distracting. Also, people generally don't speak in semi-colon. If your character's words are going to be two paragraphs, don't put a quotation mark at the end of the first paragraph. Start your next graph with a quotation mark and close it at the end of the graph. They probably shouldn't be talking for more than than that without some kind of action in between. Even if it's just pouring another cup of coffee or glass of wine.

5) That being said, avoid long strings of dialogue, or long uninterrupted monologues that could lose your readers.

I know some of you get psyched out or intimidated or whatever. But remember, the whole point of this group is just to get you writing. So have fun with it and don't forget to link up Friday!

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