Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Demon Dialogue

So my wonderful critique partners know that I don't like dialogue. I should be good at it since I talk a lot... wait a minute... maybe that's why I'm not good at it?? Do I talk so much that no one else can't get a word in edge wise? Crap! That might be it *blushes*, well now that everyone knows I'm a chatty cathy we might as well learn something else thats new!

Demon Dialogue, Dialogue Dilemmas, whatever you'd like to call it I'm bad at it. I figured what better of a way to get over this slump then to give myself some tips, along the way I might help my fellow friends along too!

1. Listen to how people talk (Don't be a stalker. That would be creepy.)
-- listening to the natural flow of speech should help the process along, watch expressions and actions it will help you understand how people interact.

2. Not exactly like real speech (yeah like that really makes sense.)
-- Here's where crap gets real confusing, not like real speech but it should be real speech. No wonder I can't write dialogue. Alfred Hitcock said that a good story was "life, with the dull parts taken out." So edit out filler words and words that don't help along the plot.

3. Don't give away too much crap at Once.
-- If you give all the good stuff away up front whose going to want to read the rest of the story? Let it unfold naturally, you don't have to discuss everything right at the beginning.

4. Action Rocks.
-- You don't want everyone to think that your MC is a total bore so make sure to give them a little attention by showing the world who they are. Break up the dialogue with physical details to help move the words along the paper.

5. Don't Go Crazy 'cuz you think you're good at it. You might suck.
--Trying to come up with different synonyms for "said" will take away from the awesomeness of your dialogue so don't get carried away with different forms of tagging.

6. Don't get all up in the biznass of today's slang.
--Don't be stupid. Don't use crap that you think is hot right now because later in life you'll realize along with the rest of the world exactly what it was to begin with... C-R-A-P.

For tips in more detail feel free to visit the following link.

Any fun tips you'd like to add? PS I'll be trying to make it over to all the blogs today but if you don't see me the writing bug has caught me so I'll be sure to get back to you!!

49 comments:

margg. said...

very interesting :)

Matthew Rush said...

Dang it! I thought you were going to share a scene in which you had two hellish fiends conversing.

Melissa said...

great tips! I'd write a longer comment but I'm supposed to be studying!!

Diana Mieczan said...

I talk a lot too.. and those are great tips...I am making notes:) Thanks sweetie:)
Wish you a great day:)

Piedmont Writer said...

I've always written my dialogue exactly as it appears from my characters mouths. Whatever is in my head goes down on paper. The tags go in or out after the scene gets down. (Unless I'm adding action then I don't use tags.)

Write your dialogue the same way you write your blog. It's great.

Christina Lee said...

Godo tips!! I'd add: only try to use he or she said instead of being too clever about tags!

Bernadine said...

I think if I would use any dialogue in any of my posts it will become a mess!!! Thanks for the tips.

Vicki Rocho said...

Matthew, I thought she was going to have talking demons too! Hahahaha.

I LIKE dialogue, but I won't say I'm GOOD at it. Just that I like the way it breaks up a page and moves things along.

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

Great tips Jen! Um .. here's one I made earlier ... Don't let your charcters have four page phone converstaions. ;o)

Candyland said...

crap crap crap crap! haha! it's all crap! great tips jen:)

Clara said...

I LOVED these tips,epecially number 5 lol! But I have some of my own to share!

1- Watch movies! A LOT! Movie world has an unending dialogue base, it´s better then any book. Swear.

2-Following Lady Gaga´s glee episode, add theatricality: When your character say something, what is his body language? Ive been experimenting with that its really cool!

Theresa Milstein said...

Good list. I love writing dialogue, and have been complimented on it sounding authentic, so I must be doing something right. Other aspects of writing are another story.

I'd add:

Don't use said exclusively or it begins to stand out.

Sometimes, no tag at all is fine. Just don't keep it out so much that the reader loses track of the speakers.

People don't say a person's name much in real speaking situations, so make sure you don't overdo it either.

What's not said is as important as what's said.

Here and there, add some action so we know a character's feelings, but don't overdo that either.

Jaydee Morgan said...

Great tips here for writing dialogue. I'm a natural stalker, er, people watcher and am fascinated by the things they say and do. It really is a great tip to create natural dialogue.

KarenG said...

This list was so funny! Surely you must be awesome at writing dialogue!

Summer said...

I do a lot of thinking about what's being said, a lot of long pauses in-between... Generally try to channel all the horrible conversations I've ever had with guys in the past.

For the happier convos, I put in some teasing.

Also, everyone has their own way of talking. In a perfect writing world, we'd all be able to instantly identify a character just by their speech patterns. Unfortunately, most of us can't quite do that, but a little spice here and there helps, you know?

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

This is where I just get more weird...I know is it possible? Yes. I write my dialogue first, then once I am satisfied with the conversation then I add in everything else. I'm not sure why I do it that way but it makes sense to me. In most worlds what people say is a reflection of what's happening around them, what they are doing, and the other person. Granted I have the other person in the scene so it's not just random MC dialogue...but it works for me. My dialogue shapes each chapter.
My biggest tips (and you have a great list) are:
Keep it authentic to you're character, learn thier voice.
It's okay to leave off tags and pace things up using naked dialogue. If you have a unique voice with each character the reader will know whose speaking without tags. (this cuts all the chaos of said and it's friends.)
Body language can go with or against the flow, make sure body language is in a good balance. DONT over or under do it. I've seen both.
One word responses are okay!
So those are just a few but dialogue comes most natural to me and my biggest peice of advice is know the authenticity of what your character would say vs what the reader wants them to say. If they aren't mushy, make it awkward when they say mushy things, or have them just blurt it out so it's a more shocking reaction. It makes life easier when you know a character that well :) Great post!

Tamara Narayan said...

I love dialogue, but my characters don't often say a lot at one time. I wonder how accurate that is? Then again, I don't like to talk. Maybe I should record a conversation between me and my husband. He talks nonstop. Could be interesting.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

A few people recommended that I break up some of my dialogue with inner thoughts so they could connect with the mc some more. I was using mostly physical beats for that (the breaking up part, not the connencting part).

Emily Ann Benedict said...

Great tips so far! Another one I was told at the beginning of my writing attempt was "Make sure every character doesn't have the exact same voice." Not everyone talks to the same. :)
Personally, I struggle with description more than dialouge, so let me know if you have a post on that!!

Renae said...

Great tips! Once again, I am so glad that I'm not the only other person out there watching people, and how they act and talk.

When I have a scene with a lot of dialogue I often run the scene through my head first. Sometimes its hard to stop, but it helps.

Robert Guthrie said...

Your Hitchcock reminder is brilliant. Thank you!

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Great post and great tips! thanks, Jen. :-)

Lydia Kang said...

I love this list! I pretty much nodded the whole time I read it.
:)

The Urban Cowboy said...

Great tips! I would write more, but my dialog sucks.

Talli Roland said...

Great tips, Jen! I love eavesdropping. It's so much fun!

I think dialogue gets better with practice - I hope mine has.

Amanda Sablan said...

Good tips here; you're very right about all of them.

My advice is just to have fun with it. When I write, I sit there and ask myself, Okay, if I were him/her, what would I say? What do I wish I had the guts to say?

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tywo said...

Wonderful tips. I write to have fun. You are an awesome writer!




LOVE!

Creepy Query Girl said...

'Don't be a stalker. That would be creepy'. - but a little stalking is ok right?:) My tips- yes, listen to how people talk but also popular shows. Alot of what actors do is written in the script, including movement and expressions. Notice their actions in between dialogue and try to create the same cadence in your writing...

Ramona said...

hey thanks for the comment. I put a new post up today too. Tommorow I will announce the winner of the contest. Dun Dun Dun. Anyways, all true tips. I don't really write but I love reading, and making up little short stories, and yes thats great advice esspecially the last one. I hate people to try and write modern!

Sandy Shin said...

Thank you, Jen. I'm terrible at writing dialogues, as well, mostly because I'm so reticent in real-life. (I cannot tell a joke to save my life.) These are really great advice.

Joanne said...

I'd add to go easy on the tags. When every line of dialogue announces who is talking with "said," it seems on the amateur side. So less is better, and it makes you craft your words so the reader naturally follows.

Tiana Smith said...

I agree that "said" is usually the best tag. I get frustrated when I read things that are trying to hard, while "said" seems to disappear easily. (Though I agree with Joanne, you don't have to have it after every dialogue sentence.)

Thanks for stopping by my blog and thank you for the compliments :) I will admit that I know all the ins and outs of Blogger and so I do like to mess with the design of my blog. Believe me, if you have a question about Blogger, I can usually help, lol.

And BTW, what's wrong with stalking? Isn't that pretty much what we do here on the Internet? ;) That's not ok?

Ramona said...

hahha thats so funny!! Im nervous to see who will win hah. Even if you dont though, maybe ill still make you a drawing for being awesome hah. choose wisely!

... Paige said...

when a character has a "favorite" word, like most people do, resist overusing it. Scatter it about like pepper, otherwise it might like will overpower stuff instead of like enhancing the flavor

nuf said

Southpaw said...

I thought you were going to talk about how demons converse too. Oh, well...maybe next time.

All those are great tips.

Alissa said...

Ha, I love dialog, and I don't talk a lot. Maybe there is a correlation.

Meredith said...

This is such great advice! I need to stop worrying about tagging my dialogue in different ways, so I'm definitely going to follow that point!

Carolyn V. said...

Someone once told me to watch movies and see how they talk (the characters). It helped a lot. =)

Tahereh said...

excellent tips! this is an awesome list :D

Nicole Murray said...

Dialogue has always been a strong point for me. I worked in the Mental Health field for a decade and have had some dilly conversations and have listened more than spoke. I have also counted on my reading of reactions, especially when the actions don't always match what the person is saying.

As for your dialogue issue, if it's fitting it in a scene just start with writing what the persons are saying to one another first....

Joe:Blah Blah!
Ted:Blah Blah Blaaaaah!

And then just fill in the actions after you have it all out. Or vice versa. If not the problem disregard my ramblings.

And helpful tips you have. I will check out that link.

Amber Tidd Murphy said...

Great tips. Awesome post.

I suck at writing more than a few lines of dialogue at a time. It's like I want to get on to "better" things like lyrical description or exposition... *hangs head.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great tips! I enjoy writing dialogue. I used to include a bazillion dialogue tags, but I'm getting better at it :)

Elle Strauss said...

I tend to write a lot of dialogue and have to go back and add action and setting. Funny how different we all are!

India Drummond said...

I struggle with dialogue too! I think it's because I tend to talk things out, but in fiction, dialogue is art, not communication!

WindyA said...

I think observation is one of the most helpful tools in writing dialog. Just watching people in conversations, where they break their sentences, what are they doing as they talk - as few people just sit/stand there.

The Words Crafter said...

I hate writing dialogue, too!!! So, thanks very much for the tips!

Slushpile Slut said...

EXCELLENT advice Jen...you sooo rock!!

Donna B said...

It's almost 1am. I told myself two hours ago I had no business staying up this late, with company coming tomorrow...but here I am...and I found you, via Rayna's blog. I am going to follow you so I can come back when I am more alert and read more. I will ponder your post and respond.