I knew today was my blog day. I thought about it all weekend and still I'm having a problem coming up with a topic. I guess I'll talk about what Rod Morris of Harvest House Publishing said about dialogue at the Central Oregon Writers Guild even though I'd rather discuss book trailers and book titles, but those are both selfish topics because I want to make a book trailer for the next release, and I'm trying to come up with catchy titles for the western series I'm working on.
But- the dialogue topic may be useful or insightful for you all, so that's what I'll discuss.
The first thing Mr. Morris said that stuck with me and I hadn't thought about is: "If someone came upon your characters speaking would the conversation be interesting enough for them to eavesdrop?" Think about it. How many times have we (as writers) listened into an interesting conversation? That's how he said your dialogue in a story should be. Interesting enough a passerby would want to eavesdrop.
Let dialogue SHOW emotions. He said if you use the right words you don't need to add tags such as - he said with anger. The words and the way you use them should covey the anger. He said he uses the abbreviation RUE for this. RUE- Resist the Urge to Explain.
He also said make sure your characters talk to each other and not the reader. Like the long pragraphs of dialogue where the character is telling about something that happened in the past more to get the reader up to speed than to be having a meaningful conversation with the other character.
And I learned a new term. "Beats". I'd never heard of it before. A beat is the sentence you put after a line of dialgue when you don't use a tag. "What do you mean I can't go?" Mary Ann stomped across the floor. Beats can either enable a reader to see the action of the scene, define a character, or can vary the rhythm of dialogue.
The part that fascinated me of the whole dialogue topic was when he discussed using diction in dialogue. The story I'm cleaning up right now has a Scotch character. I've sprinkled in Scots words to make her speech authentic and had thought about sprinkling in a few in her internals to make her internals sound more like her. Mr. Morris showed us two different versions of dialogue that was used indifferent books. One was written word for word like it would be heard. Once I got past the first couple of sentences and caught the cadence and authenticity of the words, I liked it, but he said it was too hard for the average reader. Then he showed us another piece of dialogue- set within the same culture but having placed the words differently and left out all the diction. It read smoother, but didn't have the same flavor for me. But of course it was the one he said was the better of the two. So that leaves me wondering if I need to back off on the Scots words I'm using and sprinkle in fewer. Tough decision for me to make.
And that last bit was the only real eye opener for me on dialogue, but it is always good to hear things over and over to keep me on track.
What are some of your favorite dialogue do's and don'ts? Do you like a story laced with a characters true diction or do you find it a tough read?
(Eli- I have no clue when this book will be out, so please don't put the cover up anywhere!! It happens to be the book with the Scots dialect in it)