Let Your Words Speak
By Cait Collins
Imagine a novel or short story that has no dialogue. No verbal interaction between the characters to move the action. Dialogue is action. It provides emotion and insight into the needs and desires of the players. Writing dialogue can be the hardest writing, but it can be the most rewarding. Choose your words carefully. Avoid trite phrases. Write in an active voice and eliminate as many helping verbs as possible. Allow your words to direct the emotion so that exclamation marks are not necessary.
Dialogue tags are needed to avoid confusion as to who is speaking, but write so that the reader doesn’t need stage directions such as shouted, banged, slapped, slammed, cried, and so forth. Allow the dialogue to set the scene and create the mood. For example:
“You chose to end our marriage. “I accept your decision, but I’ll always wonder if we could have salvaged the relationship.”
“Are you trying to make me feel guilty, Mark?”
“No. That would be impossible. A person with no soul feels no guilt or remorse.” Mark put on his glasses and began reading the newspaper. “Have a nice life, Beth. I just hope the next sap you target gets a better deal. “Goodbye and don’t forget to leave your keys.”
The door bell chimed. Mark looked toward the glass door.
“On second thought, forget the keys. The locksmith’s here.”