In my never-ending desire to improve the way I write, I’m reading a fabulous little gem titled How to Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell.
Now, I’m known for good dialogue. I make it a daily habit to listen to the conversations going on around me, and yes, that means I’m nosey! But it’s not just for nosiness’ sake.
Every conversation I eavesdrop on teaches me something new about syntax, style, word choice, personality, and character. I use all of that info into creating the best character dialogue I can.
Recently, I spent over two hours on three lines of dialogue between two characters. I wrote it every which way I could think of, making it more complex with each word I eliminated, and finally deciding it was perfect as stood.
The next day I changed it all around and you know what – it was even better!
Scott Bell’s book is filled with motes of dialogue genius like this: “Every word, every phrase that comes out of a character’s mouth is uttered because the character hopes it will further a purpose. The character has, in short, an agenda.”
I truly have never looked at it that way. I mean, I knew it was true, and hoped I could pull it off on the page, but seeing it so succinctly and eloquently put has turned this little gem into literary gold for me!
Knowing what dialogue is supposed to convey in the scene you are writing is another important facet to think about. None of us wants to be accused of writing tired coffee-talk dialogue. You know: the kind where you write,” Hey, what’s new?” “Nothing. You?” “Same old same old.” “Yeah.”
Can you spell BORING??!! Dialogue should amp up the scene, convey what you want the characters to convey, and make the reader want to read further.
So to my writing friends out there – and you know who you are – how are you at dialogue? Good? Lousy? Always looking to improve? What are the ways you can guarantee your dialogue does what it’s supposed to? let’s discuss…..
And since we’re talking… here’s my newest:
The last thing Carly Lennox is looking for as she sets out on her new book tour is love. The independent, widowed author is content with a life spent writing and in raising her daughter. When newscaster Mike Woodard suggests they work on a television magazine show based on her book, Carly’s thrilled, but guarded. His obvious desire to turn their relationship into something other than just a working one is more than she bargained for.
Mike Woodard is an ambitious man-and not only in his chosen profession. He wants Carly, maybe more than he’s ever wanted anything or anyone else, and as he tells her, he’s a patient guy. But the more they’re together, Mike realizes it isn’t simply desire beating within him. No. Carly is the missing piece in his life. Getting her to accept it-and him- may just be the toughest assignment he’s ever taken on.