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message 1: by Dellani (last edited Mar 02, 2011 06:53AM) (new)

Dellani Oakes (dellanioakes) | 14 comments I like dialog. I like to hear the characters talk to one another. There's so much fun interplay that can take place between them. I like to use dialog to show my readers something about the characters – how they react to each other, how they think, what they feel. Of course, too much dialog makes the story seem more like a play – or does it?

When is it too much dialog? Is that possible? Is conversation a good way to learn about characters, setting, past events or current ones? Is it a handy way to get back story? Or is dialog unnecessary and a waste of time? Do you prefer dialog to narrative?
When is it too much dialog? Is that possible?


message 2: by Val (new)

Val Pearson | 2 comments I prefer dialog to narration. It helps me bond more with the character. I don't think there is such a thing as too much dialog.


message 3: by Betty (new)

Betty (nightreader) | 29 comments I think dialog (between yourself and another or between any people in a closed or close environment) is a great way to work up characters. I live near a small town where my neighbor & I go to Tim Hortons, apparently the meeting place of a large percentage of the population. Besides our own unique conversation (and our conversation is often unique), we see a lot of acquaintances who stop by our table for a few minutes' chat, and since the place is always full and people get loud, there are lots of conversations all around you can't help but hear. Not only that, but you often start talking to the people around you. Have you ever been in an elevator & heard scraps of dialog then tried to figure out later what the story might have been?
That said, I do like some books that are dialog driven and usually enjoy reading that type of book, getting more of a feel of the characters than otherwise, but sometimes the dialog in a book can take over to the point that the focus of the book may become diluted. I find dialog works very well for inserting humor, especially gallows humor, into a serious book without altering the impact of the book. Gallows humor for the uninitiated is a necessary type of comic relief used in the course of working in high tension and emotional jobs, such as the ER of a hospital, paramedics, police, rescue workers, etc.


message 4: by Michael (last edited Mar 03, 2011 11:19AM) (new)

Michael Murphy (mmurfy) Although I've dabbled with screenplays, I think dialogue is the weakest form of novel writing, in terms of advancing plot and revealing character. Character can be developed to a degree when characters speak uniquely. Dialogue from the POV character can reveal character, but when a non-POV character is speaking the reader doesn't know what he/she is thinking, so the reader doesn't know whether the person is speaking the truth or not.

One needs to be careful sprinkling in backstory through dialogue, as it can come across as contrived for purposes of moving the plot forward.

Here's a tip I learned from writing screenpalys. If it's been awhile since you wrote the dialogue, have someone read you the dialogue you've written without tag lines, or the person's name in the dialogue line and see if you can identify who's speaking. You should be able to even with secondary characters.

Another good test, to see whether you've relied on dialogue too much for plot, backstory and character is to temporary remove all the dialogue in a chapter and see if thestory still makes sense.

Having said all that, I like dialogue, nothing better than witty banter, and a line of dialogue is more apt to become memorable such as, "Frankly me dear, I don't give a damn."


message 5: by Betty (last edited Mar 03, 2011 12:36PM) (new)

Betty (nightreader) | 29 comments When I think of dialogue in a book, thoughts are often included with that. I agree that if it is straight dialogue in the way of comments, it's true that is mostly a waste of time, but if the dialogue is aided with thought, or character thought has become such that the reader can realize what the character's thought processes generally are, I do enjoy dialogue from that perspective. On the other hand, straight narrative often gives us the point of view of the narrator, doesn't it? Don't get me wrong, I've read narrative fiction that I enjoyed, too.


message 6: by Karen (new)

Karen (karenvwrites) | 44 comments I use alot of dialogue in my writing; mind you, quote marks are a pain in the butt after awhile. But it shows more of a characters personality by showing through dialogue instead of telling through narration. some of my best work is through dialogue but that's my humble opinion.


message 7: by Sheila (new)

Sheila | 51 comments Dialog's important, but sometimes it gets treated like a cheap way to introduce backstory or "inform" the reader of stuff the characters already know. Then I feel like the author's "writing down" to me and I start to feel insulted by the story.

No dialog can make for a very silent movie though--needs seriously musical words to pull it off.


message 8: by Colleen (new)

Colleen (colleenct1) | 5 comments When I read a good book I often hear different voices in my head for the all the different characters. Mostly they are voices I am familure with. I use friends voices, family, etc.

Just recently I started reading "Gulliver's Travels" the voice I heard in my head was someone that I had just fired. I could not stand it, I had to stop reading the book, his voice was bothering that much. If there was more dialog and less narrative, I may have finished the book.


message 9: by Glenda (new)

Glenda Bixler (goodreadscomgabixler) | 8 comments Reader's point of view? Must have dialogue...

But it must be more than just... I recently read a first chapter or so of a book with nothing but dialogue. I knew nothing about the story, what was going on...frankly I stopped reading the book.

I think you need enough narrative to ensure the reader is able to follow a story...whatever it is. I further enjoy reading books that present "real" information about the locale or something in the book. I recently read a book on a skip tracer...wasn't too much to learn, but I saw his skills as such throughout the book, which I felt was important.

I love voices of characters too! I think Pat Bertram's book on older characters, for instance, is greatly improved by the dialogue of her characters...we learn to love them and want them to succeed...


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