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5 Comments

  1. Jesi
    May 25, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

    Dialogue isn’t how normal people talk. But one thing I’ve noticed is that when I’m at conventions, and around people who read about people talking more than they actually do it themselves, they speak like characters in books speak. I’ve realized that’s what a lot of my communication probelems with mundanes are – I expect them to talk like they’re in a book, like I do.

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  2. Diane Turnshek
    May 28, 2011 @ 5:57 am

    Good article, Katie! Thanks.

    Of course, all rules can be broken, but the ones I’ve heard are
    –use about 20% dialog
    –don’t start with a line of dialog (talking heads with no setting)
    –make it do *both* things at once (move the plot forward and deepen understanding of characters)

    Thanks for punctuating correctly. I seriously have MFA grad students who can’t put the commas and quotation marks in the right place. Here’s a primer if anyone needs one:
    http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/dialogue.shtml

    “A Manner of Speaking” by Harrison Howe is written in a way that all the dialog is in the form of questions, something that doesn’t dawn on the reader at first, but is crucial to the understanding of the story. Cool story (from Challenging Destiny, No 11, December 2000).

    I like to skip dialog tags whenever I can.

    At the first lecture at the first Alpha, the instructor handed out a paper with 100 words to use instead of said.
    “Said is dead,” she said.
    I pretty near died. As soon as she left, I asked the students to forgive me, ignore her and rip the paper in half.

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  3. Yumi
    May 29, 2011 @ 9:55 pm

    “Said is dead,” decreed the instructor.”Please ignore that woman!” Diane implored the Alphans as soon as she’d left.”That was terrible advice,” DBK agreed.”I despise awkward dialogue tags,” opined Cassie, nodding in agreement.

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  4. Yumi
    May 29, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

    HTML fail on my part. Awkward nonexistent line breaks are awkward and nonexistent. (I opined.)

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  5. Emma
    June 6, 2011 @ 9:07 am

    Great article, Katie! I myself have a tendency to use awkward dialogue, so this was very helpful. 🙂

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