Favorite Quotes


Favorite Quotes

by Adam Huddleston

 

For this week’s blog concerning dialogue, I wanted to resurrect an older blog containing some of my favorite quotes.  Enjoy!

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”  —   Mark Twain

“When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did–in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.”  —  Bob Monkhouse

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”  —  Douglas Adams

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.  —  Albert Einstein

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.        —  George Bernard Shaw

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Keep It Real


Outtake 374

Keep It Real

By Cait Collins

 

When we are talking to one another, do we speak the King’s English?  “Of course, we don’t. We tend to do just the opposite.  We speak with crazy idioms, slang, and sentence fragments.  Many younger people have more limited vocabularies because their main communication method is via Facebook or texting.  Therefore, as writers we make conversations more real by employing the changes in style.  I’m not suggesting we write like we text.  “R u riding with me,” may be more convenient, but it’s not the way we write dialogue and it’s definitely not acceptable in a memorandum or a report.

Imagine saying, this.  “I sauntered to the convenience store this morning to purchase a quart of Borden’s eggnog and a pound of unshelled peanuts. I strolled along the parkway to my home, tossing peanuts to the squirrels’.  They are so delightful to watch scurrying around gathering their nuts and seeds before scampering up the tree to deposit their goodies in their holes.

Seriously, this is not the way we talk.  We don’t use fancy words.  We walk to the store.  The squirrels make us smile.  When the dialogue is too out there, it stalls the story’s progression and it can interrupt the story flow.

If your characters live in the Deep South use the moonlight and magnolias, but use it sparingly. Don’t allow the idioms and local vocabulary to take over the dialogue.  In the Northeast, alobstais colorful, and a stahis cute.  But do you want to see that on every page?  The local terms are spice only.

While profanity has a place, too much can be a turn off for the reader.  I don’t like it in the movies or on TV. The same goes in our dialogue.  A “hell” or “damn” carries more of a punch if it comes out of the blue.  Remember Rhett Butler’s parting comment to Scarlet?  “My dear, I don’t give a damn.” sent the critics into orbit, but it was such an appropriate response to the self-centered Scarlett.

Dialogue is action and well written dialogue moves the story and elicits a response from the reader. Keep it real.  Use local slang and pronunciation to add spice to the conversation.  If you use profanity, don’t over-do it.  Make the words appropriate for the character so that they add a punch to the verbal exchange.

 

 

Four basic purposes of Dialogue


Four basic purposes of Dialogue

  1. To move the storyline forward by providing backstory or new and pertinent information
  2. To introduce goals an motivation and advance the conflict
  3. To set the mood or establish a theme
  4. To reveal character through attitude, speech patterns, and word choices.

Punctuation and Dialogue


Punctuation and Dialogue

Natalie Bright

 

Short pause: Commas.

Medium pause: parentheses, semicolon, em dash.

Long pause: period, question mark, exclamation mark, colon.

  • A readers’ reaction to punctuation is involuntary.
  • Remember to always create a new paragraph for each change of a different character speaking and keep the punctuation inside the quotation marks.
  • If you are using a dialogue tag, then use a comma inside the quotation marks before the tag. Use a period if you are not using a tag after.
  • If the action or dialogue tag comes first, a comma goes after the tag and a period falls inside the quotation marks at the end. If the period or exclamation mark punctuates the main sentence, then it falls outside the quotation marks.

For your writing reference library, add THE CHICAGO MANUAL OF STYLE.

THE LAST TAG


THE LAST TAG

Lynnette Jalufka

 

“There’s been much talk about dialogue and tags on this blog, eh?”

“Aye, my lady. But you can have a block of dialogue without tags.”

“True, it creates action. But if ’tis too long, I forget who’s speaking.”

“Then you have to go back and reread to figure it out.”

“Oi, at that point, I’d rather plunge a sword through the manuscript than reread it.”

“Or tie it to a pole and charge at it with a lance.”

“Good idea, Sir Knight. That’s much more fun.”

“Aye, but we’d be destroying countless hours of hard work.”

“The author deserves it for taking us out of the story.”

“Besides, even dialogue gets boring after a while. That’s why you need tags. How else would the readers know how we’re reacting to each other? You could be laughing or giving me that look.”

“And what look is that, Sir Knight?”

“The one you’re giving me now, my lady. The point is tags are important to the story.”

“So long as they’re not overdone.”

“Aye. Where are you going?”

“To find a book worthy of a lance.” She turned back to him. “Coming, Sir Knight?”

“As you wish, my lady,” he winked.

The People Speak – Part 4


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The People Speak – Part 4

By Nandy Ekle

Tag! You’re it! 

That children’s game is an example of what we do in dialogue with tag lines. Tag lines are the little quips that tell us who is speaking. Tradition says to not use the word “said” all the time, but to use a variety of descriptive terms, such as “replied,” or “screeched,” or “blurted.” And then there’s the view that these terms can be distracting, especially if not used correctly. So we should stick with “said” because it’s kind of an invisible tag. But too much of the same word can also be distracting.

I can see the value in both of these points of view. However, there are other ways of making sure your reader knows who’s talking without getting in the way. While we never want our reader to have to back up and work out the order of he said, he said, and we never want to shock our reader out of the story by having our characters whisper when they should scream or purr when they should growl, we also don’t want to bore them with the same words over and over.

One way to do this without being so technical and having to think too hard is to use action during the dialogue. Think about when just and your best friend are having a conversation. One of you grins, the other chuckles. One of you wipes a fallen piece of hair from your face and takes a sip of coffee, the other scratches her ear lobe and sniffles because she has a head cold. Now watch a group of people talking. One speaker raises his hands and gestures the size of the fish he caught. Another laughs because there’s no way that idiot caught that size of fish in that lake. But the guy’s friend stands up in the scoffer’s face to take up for his friend, while another waves her hand in the air at all of them and tells them they’re all a bunch of geeks.

Another way of making sure your readers know your characters’ lines is with voice. I’m going to refer back to Liane Moriarty because I believe she’s a master of this. Each one of her characters has such a distinct voice we know immediately who’s speaking without tons of tags. And that makes a huge difference. Reading her books is like watching a movie. I can hear the difference in each character’s lines as if I’m watching them leave their mouths. 

tag words: n

Master of Dialogue


Master of Dialogue

by Adam Huddleston

“Master” might be a bit much, but I feel that one of the greats when it comes to writing dialogue in their work is Quentin Tarantino.  I know a lot of people are put off by the extreme violence and subject matter in his movies, when you sit and listen to his characters speak to each other, you see that he has a firm hold on realistic language.

For example, look at movies like “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs”.  The film characters are mostly all criminals, committing dangerous acts that none of us would ever do, but their speech is completely relatable.  They discuss mundane topics like cheeseburgers, tipping waitresses, and a hunger for pancakes.  This dialogue connects the movie watcher with the characters and brings them into the story.  

While some may feel that Tarantino’s dialogue borders on the vulgar, each line is appropriate for the situation and executed perfectly by the actor or actress.  If you have a few hours to spare, I highly recommend the aforementioned films for there plot and especially their dialogue.

Silence is Golden


Outtakes 373

Silence is Golden

By Cait Collins

 

I do love dialogue, but sometimes silence is best.

Two guys loved the same girl.  They were the three Musketeers, always together, always laughing.  She sits alone on a marble bench looking at their pictures.  She traces the features, and pauses as if a memory stirs.  Her head falls back; she closes her eyes and allows the sun to warm her face.

Her thoughts go back to the last time she saw them. They were leaving for boot camp.  Their goofy grins faded when they boarded the bus.

A loon’s mournful song echoes in the coming darkness.  She shivers…

A tear slips down her cheek as she stares at the marble grave stones,

“I miss you both,” she whispers. “I love both of you.”

 

 

DIALOGUE FOR KID LIT


DIALOGUE FOR KID LIT

Natalie Bright

 

When the critique group works on my kid lit stories, I remember how annoying it sounds when I read the work out loud with every bit of dialogue having a “said” after or before. That is normal for most books targeted to beginning readers.  Every spoken line needs clarification and an origin as to who said what. The same rules apply for kid lit as it does for adult, as in ‘said’ is an invisible word.

Most children’s stories are heavy with dialogue. Kids do not like a lot of narrative. Fill the pages with white space. Short sentences, short paragraphs and pithy bits of talking. Chapter books are very important to beginning readers, but remember chapters are short as well.

Don’t use your word count for empty words that do not move the plot along. For example, the phone rings:

“Hello,” Jenn said.

“Hello, Jenn?” Todd asked.

She answered, “Yes, this is Jenn. Is that you, Todd?”

People do not talk in long sentences, especially here in Texas. Make your dialogue ring true for the era and for the setting of your book.

Read your dialogue out loud. Is it believable for that age of character? On occasion my critique partners will point out that my twelve-year-old character would never say that word, for example, and they are always right. Stay true to the age of your characters.

Since I write historical westerns, I have to be careful about modern day lingo that can sneak into my writing. I have caught myself using “give me call when you get there.” (Ugh.)

Still having trouble? Go to a local gaming center or sports facility and listen to kids talk. My office is right next to the high school, and my son and his friends sometimes stop by to hang out and grab a Dr. Pepper from the fridge I keep stocked. Honestly, I have no idea what they’re talking about most of time. It’s amazing how fast they can move from one topic to the next and everyone seems to keep up with the conversation, except me. Their use of slang terms are more than interesting, and highly educational, to say the least.

Happy writing, and thanks for following WordsmithSix!

Natalie