Rewriting the 7 Rules of Dialogue

StoryTrumpsStructure-196x300“Rewriting the 7 Rules of Dialogue” by Steven James | 28th June 2016 | Writer’s Digest: The Writer’s Dig.

“Most of us have heard the typical advice about writing dialogue—make sure your characters don’t all sound the same, include only what’s essential, opt for the word said over other dialogue tags, and so on.

While these blanket suggestions can get you headed in the right direction, they don’t take into account the subtleties of subtext, characterization, digressions, placement of speaker attributions, and the potentially detrimental effect of “proper” punctuation.

So, let’s delve into the well-intentioned advice you’ll most commonly hear, and what you need to know instead.”

  1. Dialogue should stay on topic.
  2. Use dialogue as you would actual speech.
  3. Opt for the speaker attribution said over all others.
  4. Avoid long speeches.
  5. Be grammatically correct.
  6. Show what the characters are doing while they’re talking.
  7. Keep characters’ speech consistent.

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4 Super Easy Ways To Create Characters For Short Stories

Create-Characters-For-Short-Stories“4 Super Easy Ways To Create Characters For Short Stories” by Mia Botha | May 3rd, 2017 | Writers Write.

Characters in Novels versus Characters in Short Stories

Creating characters in short stories is the same as creating characters in novels, but once again, when dealing with a reduced word count we have to make our writing work harder. We don’t have 80 000 words to develop a character arc. How can we work with a reduced count and still have a fully developed character?

1. Write Epic Descriptions

Sometimes we only need one line to summarise a character. Find a way to describe them that creates an image for the reader of who they are.”

2. Dialogue

How does your character talk? Vocabulary, sentence structure and how they talk all help us to show character.

The age, level of education and nationality will all influence how your character speaks.”

3. Body Language

Make your characters move. This conveys a lot about them. Make sure to use strong verbs.
Don’t say: the woman walked. That doesn’t tell us a lot about the woman. Rather say: she strode, she raced, she shuffled, she tiptoed. Those all create images and different scenarios.”

4. Internal Thoughts

Internal thoughts are still one of the simplest ways of showing character. Once you are in the mind of a character you can share their motivation, thought processes and backstory.”

“By using a combination of these methods, you’ll be able to convey as much of your character as possible using the least number of words. Tip: Don’t forget to apply to principles of ‘show, don’t tell’ to really pack a punch.

Happy writing.”

Read more via 4 Super Easy Ways To Create Characters For Short Stories

P.S. It’s Time To Remove Those Adverbial Dialogue Tags

medium_dialoguetags“P.S. It’s Time To Remove Those Adverbial Dialogue Tags” by Amanda Patterson | 20th November, 2016 | Writers Write.

“Do you pepper your dialogue tags with adverbs? Do you have to make your character’s tone clear, just in case the reader didn’t get it from the dialogue?

What is a dialogue tag?

Dialogue tags tell us when a character is speaking. They are every ‘he said’ and ‘she asked’ in the books you read and write.

They are important, because they tell us who is speaking. Readers do not like to be confused and you do not want them to lose interest and stop reading.

They are also useful when you want to:

  1. Break up long pieces of dialogue.
  2. Create or cut tension.
  3. Insert an action or a reaction.
  4. Add body language.
  5. Give us an idea of your character’s rhythm of speech.

Good writers make these tags disappear into the story. They do not litter their writing with detracting synonyms for ‘said’, like ‘urged’, ‘whispered’, ‘uttered’, ‘exclaimed’, and ‘grunted’. (I’m even cringing as I write them.) They do use these, but they do so sparingly.

Just as importantly, they stick to ‘said’ and ‘asked’ without over-indulging in adverbial abuse.”

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How to Let Your Characters Tell Their Story

dialogue“How to Let Your Characters Tell Their Story” by Anthony Ehlers | 26th September, 2013 | Writers Write.

Dialogue (dy- ã- log) noun: words spoken by characters in a novel, play or screenplay. Dialogue is what story people say. Though it must sound as natural as people talking in real life, every word must be filtered to suit a character, the plot and other elements of your story.

One of the main functions of dialogue is to show conflict between two characters.

It should also be used to show a character’s emotions.

It is also a great tool for rounding out a character, making him more vivid and believable in the reader’s mind. Through the idiosyncrasies of his speech, we learn more about his true character.

Read more via How to Let Your Characters Tell Their Story


25 Things You Should Know About Dialogue

“25 Things You Should Know About Dialogue” by Chuck Wendig | May 2013 | Terrible Minds.

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Part of why dialogue reads so easy is because it’s conversational, and conversation is how we interact with other humans and, in our heads, with the world. We talk to inanimate objects, for fuck’s sake. (What, you’ve never yelled at a stubborn jar of jelly? SHUT UP HAVE TOO.) There’s a secret, here, and that is to treat all your writing like it’s dialogue. Write things conversationally. Like you’re talking to the audience. Like you and the audience? Real BFFs. You can abuse this, of course, but the point is that in conversation you’ll use straightforward, uncomplicated language to convey your point — no value in being stodgy and academic when you’re just talking. So too is it with writing, whether it’s description in a screenplay or in fiction, you’ll find value in straightforward, uncomplicated, even talky language. Talk with the audience, don’t lecture at them. Everything is dialogue. Some of it’s just one-sided, is all.

Time for another iteration of the 25 Things series. This, I suspect, may be my last one here on the blog for awhile, but I’m contemplating putting together a small e-book of these lists with some new ones thrown in for good measure (already written part of 25 Things You Should Know About Publishing and Writing A Fucking Sentence). In the meantime, enjoy this one, and don’t hesitate to add your own in the comments.

Previous iterations of the “25 Things” series:

  • 25 Things Every Writer Should Know
  • 25 Things You Should Know About Storytelling
  • 25 Things You Should Know About Character
  • 25 Things You Should Know About Plot
  • 25 Things You Should Know About Writing A Novel
  • 25 Things You Should Know About Revisions

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10 Dialogue Errors To Avoid At All Costs – Writers Write

“10 Dialogue Errors To Avoid At All Costs” by Amanda Patterson | 3rd May, 2016 | Writers Write.

“Writing good dialogue can be difficult. Here are some of the most common mistakes beginner writers make.

  1. Stilted exchanges
  2. Similar voices
  3. Small talk
  4. Exposition
  5. Using names in dialogue
  6. Too many modifiers
  7. Forgotten dialogue tags
  8. Incorrect dialogue punctuation
  9. Unimportant conversations
  10. Too much talk.”

Read more via 10 Dialogue Errors To Avoid At All Costs – Writers Write

12 Common Writing Errors Even Bestselling Authors Make

“12 Common Writing Errors Even Bestselling Authors Make” by Ricardo Fayet | 21st April, 2016. BookBub Insights.

“Have you ever bought a New York Times bestseller and found a typo or a glaring error? It’s happened to most of us. Errors can detract from the overall impression of quality readers expect of a published book. This can lead to negative reviews and low ratings, which can have an undesirable impact on sales.

The occasional error is practically inevitable in a finished manuscript, but striving for perfection is still a worthy aim. Understanding the most common mistakes can help authors approach their work and editing process with more clarity — and keep them from stumbling on common pitfalls.

At Reedsy, we work with experienced developmental editors, copy editors, and proofreaders. I asked them a simple question: “What’s the most common writing mistake you see even bestselling authors making?” You’ll find their answers below, from big-picture mistakes down to the nitty-gritty of grammar and punctuation.

  1. Show, don’t tell
  2. Weak opening narrative
  3. Over-describing the action
  4. Unbelievable conflicts
  5. Viewpoint
  6. Assumption of knowledge
  7. Misuse of punctuation
  8. Misplaced and “dangling” modifiers
  9. Disruptive or incorrect dialogue tags
  10. Inconsistencies in names and spelling
  11. Misuse of tense
  12. Homonym errors and commonly confused words.”


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5 Rules for Punctuating Dialogue

“5 Rules for Punctuating Dialogue” by Harvey Chapman. Novel Writing Help.

“Some say that punctuating dialogue is more a matter of style than following the rules. And they’re right, up to a point.

The novelist Cormac McCarthy, for example, doesn’t use quotation marks. That’s a deliberate stylistic choice and, for him, it works. I suspect that readers, though, put up with the lack of speech marks rather than actively welcome it.

If you’ve got a hankering to do something avant garde like that, I’m not going to tell you it’s wrong. But I would advise sticking to what everyone else does – which in the case of punctuation for dialogue means following the guidelines below.

Why? Because it’s invisible, and it therefore doesn’t act as a barrier between the reader and the story. And if you’re worried that “doing what everyone else does” is boring, there are many other (and better) ways of standing out from the crowd than making a wacky punctuation choice.”

Read more via 5 Rules for Punctuating Dialogue | Novel Writing Help

Dialogue Writing Tips from Bartleby Snopes

“Dialogue Writing Tips from Bartleby Snopes”. 21 July, 2015. Aerogramme Writers’ Studio.

Every year, Bartleby Snopes Literary Magazine hosts a dialogue-only writing contest. Submissions must consist of nothing but dialogue. You can have as many characters as you want, but you can’t have any tag lines or any narration. If it sounds easy, then you are probably doing it wrong.During the six years we’ve hosted the contest, we have read hundreds of dialogue stories. Here are some things we have learned in the process. Even if you don’t plan to submit to the contest, we think these tips will help you create stories with great dialogue.

  • Good Dialogue Should Feel Real
  • Don’t Make the Dialogue Too “Real”
  • Choose an Innovative Storyline
  • Don’t Try to Overdo the Action

Read more via Dialogue Writing Tips from Bartleby Snopes | Aerogramme Writers’ Studio