Questions 3: Talk about Talking

The original plan was for this to be a post about the different styles of dialogue.  I ran into a problem, which is that I really only know about how I do it.  Feels wrong to talk about the methods that I don’t feel comfortable with.  If anything, you couldn’t take what I said to heart since I’m not speaking from experience.  Instead, I’m going to make this a Questions 3 post and open up the floor like I did on Monday.  This time with more direct questions because I think we all have different ideas on dialogue.

  1. How important is dialogue to you?
  2. What is your preferred method of writing dialogue?
  3. Is there a pet peeve that you have when it comes to writing dialogue?

Have fun.  If you think the answers are too big for a comment then feel free to make a post on your own blog with a pingback to here.  I get the sense that this might be the case for some people.

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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17 Responses to Questions 3: Talk about Talking

  1. Dialogue is very important to me. It is a way to move a story without bogging it down into tiresome prose. It is the best “show don’t tell” technique.
    My preferred technique is to use dialog without cumbersome tags. As long as the reader can tell who is speaking I don’t think tags are necessary.
    My pet peeve is folks who shove dialogue between two thoughts. What I mean is the dialog gets buried in an introductory statement and an endless tag. For example: Jane reached for the jar, “it is too far up on the shelf,” she cried out in frustration as she moved the ladder.

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  2. L. Marie says:

    1. How important is dialogue to you?
    Very important. Since I used to write plays, dialogue is usually the first thing that comes to mind when I begin a story. Dialogue is how I get to know the characters.
    2. What is your preferred method of writing dialogue?
    I can’t say I have a preferred method. I write the first lines that come to mind. Then I’ll read the scene out loud and insert beats where needed. When I draft, I’m just getting to know the characters and might not have their voice just right. So some of the dialogue might not ring true until the editing phase.
    3. Is there a pet peeve that you have when it comes to writing dialogue?
    Do you mean when I write it or when I read it? If the latter, the only thing that bothers me is when someone is clearly writing historical fiction but uses twenty-first century vernacular. It always throws me out of the story unless I know the author is going for something stylistic like A Knight’s Tale ages ago. I’m not saying, “Thees” and “Thous” have to be used. Just something that fits the times.

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  3. missimontana says:

    Dialogue is important to me because it moves a story forward and makes it real. It’s a way to show the personalities of the characters. I prefer the old fashioned way of writing it. One thing I dislike in some modern books is the tendency to leave out tags when 3 or 4 people are speaking. I have become confused and have had to read a page several times because I can’t figure out who is saying what to whom. Unless the characters have accents or distinct speech patterns, this is really aggravating. A tag for every line isn’t necessary, but a few well placed ones would make it easier to understand. I also don’t like omitting quotes in long fiction. Just my opinion, but books seem drab and blah without them.

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  4. Dialog is of major importance to me. I don’t know if I have a preferred method, but I even use dialog with animals, just so my character can share his thoughts. I struggle with weaving action beats in, and rely upon “he said” too much.

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  5. Dialogue is extremely important in advancing a story, giving us insight into a character, and making the story less boring. I like to be conversational when writing dialog. Snappy comebacks, interruptions and naturally flowing conversation as humans would do it works best for me. My pet peeve is too many dialogue tags. We don’t need ‘he said’ ‘she said’ ‘Bob said’ with every bit of dialogue. This is especially true when there’s a conversation between two people. The dialogue tags just interrupt the flow.

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    • Writing like a human would talk is a great target to aim for. I notice that fictional people seem to talk better than real ones because we notice the incorrect uses of grammar in those instances. I use dialogue tags along with action to show the characters are doing something while speaking. Try to vary it up because big chunks of dialogue with no tags throws me off as a reader.

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  6. James said the punctuation has to be inside the quotes, but then he forgot the ending quote mark. Or did he…?

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