Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Dialogue – Snappy Dialogue, That is

This Clash's host is Lisa Lickel
My deepest thanks to COTT Talent Scout, Katie McCurdy, for putting this Clash together.

Read the excerpts here.


Dialogue lets your characters be heard. It’s their voice; their conversation amongst themselves. It’s how they tell their story. Dialogue is talk. Discussion. Arguments. Jokes. Questions and answers. Foibles. Mystery. Mesmerism. It’s the muscle on the skeleton of the story.

The writer’s ability to conquer natural dialogue comes out of how well we know our characters. The reader’s ability to hear natural-sounding dialogue comes from the depth from which he is drawn into the story.

      Using dialogue in a book helps readers see that characters spend time with each other for a reason, even if they’re stranded on desert islands. Tom Hanks had Wilson in the move Cast Away, after all. Dialogue is more than internal mutterings or their revelations to the reader. It needs to be heard, not just read. The words need to translate immediately to sound in the reader’s inner ear, and thus be natural, no matter the setting.

What can we deduce from these two small pieces of the excerpts in this Clash? Are you in time, in story, in the character’s emotions? Can you cheer for them? Figure out exactly what will happen next, or are you eager to turn the page for more?


“Would you mind if I walked with you?”
      “As long as we’re not together.”
      “All right.” He strode into the street and spread his arms as wide as his grin. “There. We’re not together.”
     “Jack!” she cried…. “Get back up here.” Ruth motioned frantically. “Don’t make me fix you up again.”

OR
     “Perhaps you cannot wait for the wedding night?”
      Her brown eyes simmered. “Why you insufferable cad!” She raised her hand to slap him.

He caught it and lifted it to his lips for a kiss, eyeing her with delight.

She studied him then released a sigh. “You tease me, sir.” Snatching her hand from his, she stepped back. “But what would I expect from you?”



In a novel, talk must have a purpose. A conversation shouldn’t be talk for the sake of filling time or space. Readers have only until the last page to spend with people in a book, so writers must not waste time. Dialogue is meant to reveal something useful, important to the story line—passion, motive, or confession.

Why Snappy? Characters must speak true to their nature. While snappy it might not describe the personality, it implies action, tension, perhaps a slip of the tongue or a revelation that might even surprise the character, but certainly should surprise the reader.


 
We at Clash of the Titles hope you are intrigued by these little snippets of story and want to find out more about the books and authors. On Friday, you’ll get that chance! Come back then, and don’t forget to visit the book club, and leave comments to enter the drawing for a free book.

4 comments:

Delia Latham Wednesday, August 31, 2011  

Oooh...I love both of these snippets! Definitely makes me want to know "the rest of the story" in both situations. Great dialogue!

Gail Pallotta Wednesday, August 31, 2011  

Loved the dialogue in both of these snippets. What great characters.

April W Gardner Friday, September 02, 2011  

Great snippets! A reader can tell so much just from those lines--tone, personality, conflict.

Mesmerism--great word, Lisa.

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