1. dc83
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    dc83 New Member

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    Dialogue question

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by dc83, Sep 12, 2016.

    Hi all, I'm new to the forum so firstly a hi. My question is concerning dialogue: when I'm writing dialogue I'm aware that cliches should be avoided, but I also like to write as dialogue spoken everyday. This may include some set expressions etc that people use a lot. Would this be poor dialogue even if used sparingly? If I do otherwise, the dialogue can feel forced and unnatural. Thank you for any help anyone can offer
     
  2. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    You hit the nail on its head (;)) when you said, "used sparingly". We want our characters to sound real. Real people speak in cliché quite a lot. A problem arises when a writer doesn't think about his dialogue and how that specific character would speak.

    I think you should be extra careful with your MC's speech. If it's a static character that sneaks in a trite phrase, sure I don't have a problem with it. But I want Main Character to be unique. Again, here and there, if MC uses a phrase that's been beaten to death, I don't see a problem with it. Just be aware of what you're trying to do and most importantly, the dialogue should fit the speaker. Don't use clichés because you don't feel like thinking of anything else, but if it feels natural and is applicable, then write what you need to write.
     
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  3. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    Cliches don't make dialog sound anymore realistic. There are always ways to avoid using cliches and say things another way. Why don't you try not using any cliches while you are talking to people for a whole week. I bet you don't struggle to find other ways to get your point across. If your dialog feels forced when you don't use cliches, there is another problem with your dialog.
     
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  4. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    My point wasn't that clichés should be used to make dialogue realistic.

    It was that clichés are used OFTEN in regular speech. That is why I said sparingly. Telling someone to never use clichéd phrases in dialogue is another one of those silly absolutes that I think should be avoided when discussing writing. There ARE times when a trite phrase is appropriate in dialogue. Saying otherwise is needlessly limited.

    That said, I would never champion using chichés in prose. Only dialogue WHERE APPLICABLE.
     
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  5. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    I'd be very careful about making dialogue read like dialogue spoken every day. There is a lot of everyday conversation that is social convention (or just poor speech patterns) and it doesn't help a story at all. Written dialogue is an approximation of everyday language, a slimmed down version of normal conversation.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  6. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    I think it really depends on the genre you're writing. I write contemporary romances, and my characters use phrases and idoms I hear in normal conversations with family, friends and co-workers all the time. I like my dialogue to sound like something you'd overhear at your neighborhood bar or coffeehouse.
     
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  7. Shattered Shields
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    Shattered Shields Gratsa!

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    Sure, you can use everyday conversation, type it out right now. Every word, every "uh", every "like", every awkward pause.

    See how bad it is?
     
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  8. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    As @Spencer1990 mentioned, they can be used occasionally. They can also be used to help define a character. If you have the same character using the same silly cliche more than once during the course of the novel, it can help define that character's "voice." It's sort of like having a character who calls everyone "Buddy" or a character that frequently answers questions with a question. It defines their personality-- gives them a certain trait.

    I would avoid having more than one character who does this.
     
  9. doggiedude
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    doggiedude Contributing Member

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    and yes ... even having one character who frequently overuses "like" or "uh" or "um" gives them a defining trait.
     
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  10. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    It's not bad if you're trying to accurately portray how contemporary conversation sounds. I've done all of the above and it hasn't hurt me much. Does all of my dialogue sound like that? Nope, but neither do most of the conversations I have and overhear in real life. But every once and a while there are uhs, and likes, and awkward pauses that I like to include because they seem genuine and real given the characters and setting of my story.
     
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  11. Shattered Shields
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    Shattered Shields Gratsa!

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    Okay yeah I really should have clarified.

    My point wasn't "don't use it at all". It was more like "be careful". Because tedious dialogue (or tedious anything) can kill a story right quick. If these "uh"s and "like"s were used over and over and over I'll throw the book through a wall. I don't know why any author would want a broken record player for a character. Conclusion- avoid repetition.
     
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  12. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    I understood the original post to be talking about trite phrases when s/he said "dialogue spoken every day." Things like "it was hot as hell" or "all of the sudden." (And yes I'm aware it's all of A sudden I'm using this to make a point.) Those things that we, as writers, know are not to be used but people say them ad nauseam. I don't think it's really up for debate as to whether or not we should write dialogue as if it were transcribe directly from voice recordings.
     
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  13. Shattered Shields
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    Shattered Shields Gratsa!

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    Okay good God man, I have to say it. You are, without a doubt, the classiest sounding guy I've ever met. I can't read your typing without picturing you dressed in a exquisite suit, and leisurely smoking a pipe with one hand, and doing something awesome with the other. Such as curing cancer, or throwing food to poverty stricken neighborhoods. And perhaps after that you'd do a Dr. Who number and save the galaxy from oddly murderous aliens.

    Do you sleep in a suit, by any chance? Like Barney from Friends.
     
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  14. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    I've read this three times now and can't for the life of me figure out whether or not it's sarcastic. So I'm choosing to believe it's a genuine compliment. Thank you.

    If it's sarcasm, my hat is off to you because this almost made me spit water on my computer. :-D

    That said, I think I own one suit and exquisite is not the word I'd use to describe it, haha.
     
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  15. Shattered Shields
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    Shattered Shields Gratsa!

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    Not sarcastic, I'm imagining your voice as the one of Marney Steeman. The incredibly bizarre and science defying love child of Morgan Freeman and Barney from Friends. I imagine they met in a Rustlers Steak House.

    But yes you really do sound that classy. You're just so eloquent, your words taste like wine, wait, no, finely aged whiskey. Gratsa, I should probably stop posting when I'm tired, it lets my crazy side free a little bit.
     
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  16. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    Crazy is good in writing. You should use this opportunity to let loose on a poem or a short story. I find those are the quintessential expressions of our true voice as writers.
     
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  17. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's funny, because I've very often thought the exact same thing. You do write phenomenally well, Spence.
     

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