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I am a writer - late developer since I wasn't published until I was 50. I have now written 23 novels, numerous short stories and articles.

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Saturday, 23 January 2010
I’m sorry I’m so late with this but I’ve been laid up with a dodgy hip and could not concentrate on anything other then feeling sorry for myself. However, feeling better here are some notes on dialogue. Dialogue is critical because it has so many functions within your novel. For some it is easy and others never get the hang of it. The aim We want to make the reader think it is real. Of course, like most things to do with writing, it is completely artificial. People in books speak in a different way to conversation in life. Normal conversation is full of waffling and rambling, ums and unfinished sentences – a lot of understanding comes from facial expression and body language which we don’t have in fiction. The aim is to make the dialogue appear real yet using it all the time to convey plot, information, characterisation and pace. What can dialogue do for us? It anchors us in time and place. It reveals character. It can be a vehicle for giving the back story in an easily digestible form. It can explain the present and hint of the future It moves the plot forward, It can increase the pace. It can remind the reader of events which might have been forgotten. It can introduce, highlight or resolve conflict. If you can’t identify any of these in the conversations you have given your characters then perhaps it would be better to start again. He said, she said. If you give each character a “voice” of their own which is recognisable to the reader then there is less need for the he, she said that worries lots of people. This is fine if there are two characters only. Less easy with three and impossible with four then names are needed. Mistakes. Often new writers make the mistake of loading the length of conversation and give the characters long speeches when people don’t talk like that. They also make them static. If you watch people talking they pause, look out of windows, scratch. If you use this then you give movement to your writing and make it more real – and get rid of a few he said. E.g: “If I’d had the sausages . . .” Peter looked out of the window, remembering other sausages he’d enjoyed. “No point in regrets,’ he turned away but knew he lied. As people have habits and tics in their body language so they do in language. Use this to your advantage for identifying characters. They may have phrases or particular words they use. Or use dodgy grammar for identification. And accents play a part too. While thinking about accents you are better off if you imply it by word order rather than trying to write dialect which drives most readers mental. How do I know if I’ve got it right? The classic and best way is to read it out loud even tape it to listen to. If it’s easy to read and if it sounds right then it will be right

3 comments:

  1. I do love the way you distil a complex subject down into sound sense.

    Hope your hip gets better and stays that way.

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  2. Excellent post, Anita and sorry to hear about your hip! Hope very much you're better and back to normal very soon.

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  3. 變天了~~注意身體,別感冒囉! .........................................

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