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.

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.”

 

 

A LESSON FROM THE MOVIES


A LESSON FROM THE MOVIES

Lynnette Jalufka

 

Sometimes I think I should write screenplays instead of novels. Screenplays are mostly dialogue, and dialogue is my favorite part of writing. You can learn a lot about dialogue by watching movies: flow, tension, emotions. The main difference between it and a book is that the audience can see who’s speaking and their reactions, which help convey the emotion of the scene. In a book, you don’t have that luxury. You convey emotion through tags and action beats. And stories are all about emotion.

Here’s an exercise for you: take a piece of dialogue from a movie and write it as if it was in a book by adding tags and action beats. Write so that a person who hasn’t seen the movie can get the emotion of the scene.

Let’s Talk


Let’s Talk

By Nandy Ekle

 

“Hi. My name is Main Character.” He raised his hand in a wave.

“Hi, Main Character. My name is Nemesis.” He nodded toward Main Character.

Main Character smiled. “It’s good to meet you.”

“Thank you. It’s good to meet you too.”

Main Character looked past Nemesis’ shoulder and Nemesis looked down at the floor. The clock ticked an awkward moment.

Main Character jerked his face back to Nemesis’ face as a flash of thought passed through his mind. “We’re supposed to inspire writers to write a believable dialogue.”

A light snapped on in Nemesis’ eyes. “Oh. Do you mean, like, actually sounding like two people having a conversation instead of sounding like two sides of the same person?”

“Yes. That’s right.” Main Character smiled while his head moved up and down.

“I see.  How do you think a good writer does that?”

Shrugging his shoulders, Main Character said, “Well, I think they have to just almost actually hear two different people speaking and write what they say exactly the way it’s said.”

Nemesis’ eyes darken slightly. “Ya’ know, Mainy, I do b’lieve you jes’ hit da nail rat own its big ol’ head.”

“Yes. And that means the writer needs to know his characters very well.” He took a coupe of steps backward.

“Yore galdern rat ‘bout dat dar rule.” Nemesis took a couple of steps forward toward Main Character.

Main Character turned his head and looked over his shoulder for the door behind him, then he looked back at Nemesis. His brow was lined with worry. “So, do you have any advice to add to that?”

Nemesis stopped moving and lookd up into space as if an idea would appear like a light bulb. “Well . . . yeah. They prolly need to make shore dem readers know who’s tawkin’ when. ‘Cause, like us? We ain’t just standing still flappin’ our gums. We’re acchully doing’ sumpin’”

“That’s right,” Main Character said.

Nemesis grinned a dark toothy grin. Yeah.” He turned to look at the person reading their dialogue. “Got that, reader? Now.” He paused and leaned forward until his nose nearly touched the reader’s nose. The dark light came back to his eyes. “Go do it!”

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.