Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Dialogue

The regularly scheduled IWSG post is being interrupted to bring you the following important information about the letter D ...



Should writing dialogue be hard? We all speak everyday ... right? So, why would it be hard to write?

Well, partly, because if you are writing "everyday" dialogue, your readers will be bored to tears.

Don't believe me?

Then think about what literary agent, Donald Maass, wrote on the topic:

"In real life most of what people say to each other is drivel. Transcripts of genuine dialogue, as in police wire taps, is a chronicle of halting, disjointed, nonlinear incoherence. Really, it's a wonder that we understand each other. Dialogue in novels is, thank goodness, unnatural. The author has time to think it through" (THE FIRE IN FICTION, p.190).

What do you think?

Is writing dialogue a challenge? Do you agree with Maass?

Editorial Note: Please consider giving a book or a buck to the BOOK DRIVE for teenagers! If everyone from the AtoZ Challenge gave a single dollar ... we'd have a huge donation for this high school library. My goal is to donate 500 books (plus monetary contributions). So far we've raised $30. CLICK HERE to help out! THANKS!!

21 comments:

  1. I have a book on dialogue called "Shut Up," He Explained. I've had it for years but it might be available on Amazon. I agree that writing dialogue is waaay different han writing conversation.

    Visitng from the A to Z Challenge. Hope you'll visit back.

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    1. I checked out that book from the library. Very good book!

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  2. Writing dialogue is one of my strength. It's something I really enjoy doing.

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  3. I absolutely agree with Maass!

    And I agree with you -- My post today was also about dialogue, lol!

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    1. Same here. Guess "D is for Dialogue" is fairly common.

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  4. Challenging yes, but I love to do it.

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  5. Dialogue is one of my favorite parts of the story. I don't try to represent it exactly as it sounds in real life, of course, but there's nothing like playing with what people say and what they mean.

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  6. Great D post ;)

    Dialogue is so important... for me, it's a huge part of who the character is... :D

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  7. I'm not sure if I do it well, but writing dialogue comes easy for me.

    Nice to meet you.

    Teresa

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  8. I enjoy writing dialogue. I try to keep it short and flowing without any extras that make it seem contrived.

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  9. Dialogue is my strong point. It's the descriptive passages that challenge me, which is why I keep thinking about tinkering with two screenplays I tried to write several years ago! Don't have to write fancy description. I'm with William Goldman on this!!
    Ann Best, Author of In the Mirror & Other Memoirs

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  10. I love writing dialogue! It's probably the one thing about writing that comes easiest to me. Where I run into trouble is finding a balance between dialogue and narrative... which is why I kind of love writing scripts: Dialogue dominates.

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  11. I had a hard time with dialogue until I figured out (with the help of some writing classes) that I needed to give my characters some conflict to discuss. After that, dialogue just flew onto the page! Add some body language, and action and viola! Story!
    Now if my characters would just shut up, I could get some narrative in. :)

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  12. I'm getting better at writing dialogue and saying it and showing it, rather than telling it.

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  13. Maass is right. Real life dialogue sucks. Dialogue in novels is unnatural. The challenge is to fool the reader into thinking it sounds real.

    I love it. The biggest problem for me is coming up with what to say. Small talk is not my forte. Luckily, stories do not thrive on small talk :)

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    1. "The challenge is to fool the reader into thinking it sounds real."

      Completely agree!

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  14. I agree with Maass--it is the hardest thing to do in fiction. At least for me.

    --Damyanti, Co-host A to Z Challenge April 2012

    Twitter: @AprilA2Z
    #atozchallenge

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  15. I've read dialogue that copies the real life counterpart, and when it doesn't do it too much, such as the occasional stutter, I can handle it. But when it is used on every page, I can't stand it.

    I also hate comma splice run ons, which is common among amateur writers who tend to copy real life dialog. If you're going to write in choppy phrases, I'd rather read sentence fragments: capital letter to start, ending in a period. Like this.

    Check out our #AtoZChallenge D post, a guest post from Chris Redding.

    http://masqueradecrew.blogspot.com/2012/04/d-is-for-dialogue-atozchallenge.html

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  16. Some reality tips apply in writing. Like not using each others names repeatedly. When we talk, we rarely address each other by name. And, in writing, it gets annoying if used too much. Same with a pet name, like darling.

    Dialogue works hard in fiction--furthering plot, painting character, etc... I agree with Maas.

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  17. I totally agree with Maass. I don't totally agree with M Pax - in screenplays, anyway - because like Maass says - talking is drivel, dialogue is better. So using names is a good thing - because names have power. Dropping it in solidifies a character's dialogue in screenplays. I actually do say people's names a fair amount of the time, too. I think most people do - but it isn't remembered as part of the conversation - it fades back in the memory. But think back to the last TV show or movie you watched - did the characters say names a lot that you remember? Then, really listen to the next TV show or movie you watch - pay attention to spoken names - there will be more than you would have guessed. In prose, I think you do have to back off on spoken names in dialogue somewhat. Otherwise - do what feels right. You can always do a revision if it doesn't work!

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  18. I definitely agree with Maass! It has to "read" natural...even though it's not truly natural. :)

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