Three Dialogue Dilemmas
Writers find whipping out a short paragraph to make a point is much easier than putting the information in their characters’ mouths and having them talk about it.
When you pick up a book with not much white space, you know it will be heavy with words and won’t be dialogue strong.
That’s because writers often prefer to avoid dialogue. It takes a different level of thinking and writing.
When you write a narrative about what’s happening, about what you want your readers to know, or to show them the story’s environment you put the reader in the role of a learner.
Dialogue brings your reader in close and lets them hear and feel the emotions of your story. But you have to be careful. You don’t want to abuse this opportunity to engage your readers by putting words in your characters’ mouths that they wouldn’t say or by expanding unnecessarily on their dialogue.
1. Dialogue as a disguise to tell the reader something the author wants the reader to know: “You know the cabin Uncle John built fifty years ago is just over this hill.”
If they both know, why say it? Dialogue should never be aimed at the reader.
2. Dialogue explained: “You’re such an idiot. Don’t you ever read instructions?” She fumed.
Her dialogue tells us she’s mad. Saying so again is redundant.
3. Dialogue with unnecessary speaker attributions: “I’m certain your child will recover,” the doctor said, “because this new drug works miracles.”
If the child, the parent, and the doctor are the ones in the room, we know who’s speaking.
There are other pitfalls to watch out for when writing dialogue, but hunt for these three during revision. They scream, “Delete!”
Are there some dialogue dilemmas that make you laugh?