Peg366's Blog

Kathy Temean Newsletter

Posted on: April 28, 2010

Be sure to check out www.kathytemean.com.  She has such great advice.

 

Dialogue usually is a major part of your story, so making sure your dialogue works is very important.  Here are some things to consider when going through that first draft.

  1. 1.  Are you punctuating dialogue correctly, so that you neither confuse nor distract your readers?
  2. 2.  Are your characters speaking naturally, as they would in reality, but more coherently?
  3. 3.  Does every speech advance the story, revealing something new about the plot or the characters? If not, what is its justification?
  4. 4.  Are your characters so distinct in their speech–in diction, rhythm, and mannerism–that you rarely need to add “he said” or “she said”?

Dialogue has to sound like speech.  Most people don’t speak precisely or concisely enough to serve the writer’s needs. Good dialogue has several functions:

  • To convey exposition: to tell us, through the conversations of the characters, what we need to know to make sense of the story.
  • To convey character: to show us what kinds of people we’re dealing with.
  • To convey a sense of place and time: to evoke the speech patterns, vocabulary and rhythms of specific kinds of people.
  • To develop conflict: to show how some people use language to dominate others, or fail to do so.

Dialogue can convey character, but check to make sure you haven’t gotten bogged down in chatter that doesn’t advance the story.

Dialogue that conveys a specific place and time can become exaggerated and stereotyped.  Be careful.

Dialogue that develops conflict has to do so while also conveying exposition, portraying character, and staying true to the time and place.

Some Dialogue Hazards to Avoid:

  • Too much faithfulness to speech: “Um, uh, y’know, geez, well, like, well.”
  • Unusual spellings: “Yeah,” not “Yeh” or “Yea” or “Ya.”
  • Too much use of “he said,” “she said.”
  • Too much variation: “he averred,” “she riposted”
  • Dialect exaggeration: “Lawsy, Miz Scahlut, us’s wuhkin’ jes’ as fas’ as us kin.”
  • Excessive direct address: “Tell me, Marshall, your opinion of Vanessa.” “I hate her, Roger.” “Why is that, Marshall?” “She bullies everyone, Roger.”

Some Dialogue Conventions to Consider:

Each new speaker requires a new paragraph, properly indented and set off by quotation marks.

“Use double quotations,” the novelist ordered, “and remember to place commas and periods inside those quotation marks.”

“If a speaker goes on for more than one paragraph,” the count responded in his heavy Transylvanian accent, “do not close off the quotation marks at the end of the first paragraph.

“Simply place quotation marks at the beginning of the next paragraph, and carry on to the end of the quotation.”

Use “he said” expressions only when you must, to avoid confusion about who’s speaking.  Try to avoid signaling increasing tension by moving from “he said” to “he snapped,” to “he snarled,” to “he bellowed furiously.”  The dialogue itself should convey that changing mood, and make such comments needless.

Action as well as speech is a part of dialogue. We expect to know when the speakers pause, where they’re looking, what they’re doing with their hands, how they respond to one another. The characters’ speech becomes just one aspect of their interactions; sometimes their words are all we need, but sometimes we definitely need more. This is especially true when you’re trying to convey a conflict between what your characters say and what they feel: their nonverbal messages are going to be far more reliable than their spoken words.

Speak your dialogue out loud; if it doesn’t sound natural, or contains unexpected rhymes and rhythms, revise it.

Rely on rhythm and vocabulary, not phonetic spelling, to convey accent or dialect.

If you are giving us your characters’ exact unspoken thoughts, use italics. If you are paraphrasing those thoughts, use regular Roman type):

Now what does she want? he asked himself. Isn’t she ever satisfied? Marshall wondered what she wanted now. She was never satisfied.

If you plan to give us a long passage of inner monologue, however, consider the discomfort of having to read line after line of italic print. If you wish to emphasize a word in a line of italics, use Roman: Isn’t she ever satisfied?

Hope you find this helful.  Remember to share any tips you use to make your dialogue work.

Kathy

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

peg366


I am an aspiring picturebook writer with some magazine credits just no picture book contract yet. I know it is coming and I am more than willing to work for it.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 10 other followers

July 2009

April 2010
M T W T F S S
« Mar   May »
 1234
567891011
12131415161718
19202122232425
2627282930  

Twitter.com/peg366

My Favorites:

I love the children's movies Wizard of Oz and the Neverending Story. Both movies make me feel the lesson that hope is alive and well. After seeing UP this past week, it just might have a chance at being added to this list.

I love the cool colors of blues and purples.Those colors are peaceful for me.

I love The Velveteen Rabbit. Even as an adult, I still feel the urge to cry when he becomes real. I know, silly, but a good book can make me laugh and cry as it takes me on a magical journey.

Authors and Illustrators:

Authors, Author/Illustrator, Illustrators that I know and/or Like.

Catergories:

C= Children

MG= Mid Grade

T= Teen

YA= Young Adult

A= Adult

Names:

Bonnie Adamson *

Kathi Appelt *

Tedd Arnold

Avi

Natalie Babbit

Molly Bang

Bonnie Becker

Jan and Stan Berenstain

Judy Blume

Tracey M. Cox

Linda Crotta Brennan *

Jan Brett

Janie Bynum *

Eric Carle

Pam Calvert

Nancy Carlson

Beverly Cleary

Kevin Scott Collier

Sharon Creech

Doreen Cronnin

Tomie dePaulo

Kate DiCamillo

Kathleen Duey *

Dotti Enderle

Jan Fields *

Denise Fleming

Mem Fox

Kelley Milner Hall

Amy Heist

Kevin Henkes

Ellen Jackson *

Jeff Kinney

Jackie French Koller

Ursula K. LeGuin

Leo Lionni

Lois Lowry

Mercer Mayer

Robert Munsch

Laura Numeroff

Linda Sue Parks

Dav Pilkey

Patricia Polacco

Peggy Rathmann

Bethany Roberts

David Shannon

Aaron Shepard

Donna J. Shepherd *

Cynthia Leitich Smith

Jerry Spinelli

Diane Stanley

Chris Van Allsburg

Rick Walton *

Lisa Wheeler

Mo Willems

Karma Wilson *

Audrey Woods

Jane Yolen *

Favorite Websites:

http://www.institutechildrenslit.net/

http://www.cbiclubhouse.com/

http://www.scbwi.org/

http://www.underdown.org/

http://www.verlakay.com/

http://www.cynthialeitichsmith.com

Favorite Blogs:

• ShelfTalker: A Children’s Bookseller’s Blog
• Alice’s CWIM Blog
• A Fuse #8 Production
• Cynsations
• Nathan Bransford – Literary Agent
• Editorial Anonymous
• Miss Snark’s First Victim
• Writing for children and teens

Favorite Quotes.

RSS Facebook.Com

  • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
%d bloggers like this: