1. Kube
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    Kube Member

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    Help!! All My Characters Want To Do Is Talk

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Kube, Nov 23, 2011.

    I'm working on my novel and even though I desperately want to ge on with the action, I find myself writing page after page of dialogue. Most of the dialogue is exposition but I'm well into my story and it seems all they want to do is sit around the campfire talking about themselves. TThis sort of writing might work in a different sort of story but they're supposed to be on a quest so it seems like they should be, you know, questing. Am I taking the whole show don't tell thing too seriously? I know everything I've written tonight is going to be cut from the final draft in lieu of a couple of summarizing paragraphs, but I still can't get this particular character to shut up about himself. Maybe I'm just trying to get it written down so I know it. What do you guys think?

    Maybe it's time for a good analytical reading of the lord of the rings.
     
  2. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    Dialogue is what moves things along at a good pace, and it more easily shows relationships between characters; how they interact in speech is a lot easier to understand than how they interact by a description of their expressions.

    It's really up to you to find the places where the action will counterbalance the amount of dialogue. When they're moving through caves, for example, really play on the darkness and the tension and the things that look like something but aren't. Keep in mind also that it's better to have to cut things out than to add things in.
     
  3. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    It sounds like you need to maybe write a kind of an Operette, like instead of singing then speech, you could have a mix of the two, lots of dialoques then a bit of prose.
    It might come out well.
     
  4. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    As long as you're willing to chop then I say let the characters ramble a bit in the first draft, often times very interesting story comes from letting a character ramble.
     
  5. Kube
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    Kube Member

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    Thanks for the input. Actually, having read it over, I am starting to realize that even though it's taking me forever to write the dialogue, it reads much faster. The particular character I'm writing right now is still a bit long-winded, especially for a secondary/tertiary character, but it can easily be shortened once I get to editing. I also need to pepper the dialogue (actually in regards to this character, it's more of a monologue) with some minor actions just to break it up a bit and it should be just fine. Even after all these years, I still can't get over wanting to be able to write as fast as I read.
     
  6. Flashfire07
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    Flashfire07 Active Member

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    If it gets in the way of the plot feel free to allow the plot to interrupt the dialogue. Have a third party run in and announce they won the lottery or whatever may be needed for your story. If the dialogue is natural and fits the story go ahead and let it flow on for a bit, especially if it helps us get into the characters head a bit more.
     
  7. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    there are all sorts of tricks you can pull after the fact. Flashbacks, reflectins by the various characters... just go with it if the juices are going and fix it after.
     
  8. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Great idea. One thing I do while editing is look for long winded dialogue. The question I ask myself as to if it qualifies as long winded is, Do aliens need to land in order to keep the story interesting? I have never thought of it as the plot interrupting the dialogue. I love the way you put that.
     
  9. Felipe
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    Felipe Active Member

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    I'm working on my novel and even though I desperately want to ge on with the action, I find myself writing page after page of dialogue. Most of the dialogue is exposition but I'm well into my story and it seems all they want to do is sit around the campfire talking about themselves. TThis sort of writing might work in a different sort of story but they're supposed to be on a quest so it seems like they should be, you know, questing.


    Do not throw any of it away, some of your original writing has the core inspiration of the main story at hand that is soon to unfold. Save it, then you can interrupt these "fireside talks" with interspersed action as things happen, only to let the conversation resume. That way, reader gets to know your characters backgrounds as they see the story or quest unfold. I really believe in "channeling" and these conversations may be key as the story progresses.

    I am starting to realize that even though it's taking me forever to write the dialogue, it reads much faster. The particular character I'm writing right now is still a bit long-winded, especially for a secondary/tertiary character, but it can easily be shortened once I get to editing. I also need to pepper the dialogue (actually in regards to this character, it's more of a monologue) with some minor actions just to break it up a bit and it should be just fine.


    Yes, the reading does go faster, much faster than the writing. I'm having a great time with a secondary/tertiary, very long winded character in my latest novel right now. Do not sell him short as he can be as colorful and interesting as you want him to be. Take my secondary/tertiary character, for example. My main characters meet him when they liberate a corrupt Mexican jail in 1649. Most, if not all are jailed for small debts or petty thefts just to survive, but this character is a "defiler of women' who is jailed just to keep a husband from killing him, or trying to. Actually, he is a well seasoned highway man, a rouge, a soldier of fortune and a blade for hire but yes, he has a weakness for women. He loses miserably at cards but imagines himself a card shark. He too goes on endlessly about himself, slaying hundreds in foreign wars and scaling walls to rescue fair haired ladies from lives of sheer boredom. But..he sure can use a blade which is what they need right now.

    Throw nothing away, save it, edit it and intersperse it with action. They will probably sit around a fire every night. Now.. you have to introduce this likable scoundrel.
     
  10. Paranormal Romancer
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    Paranormal Romancer New Member

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    Maybe you need a different kind of dialogue?
    Sounds like info-dumpin' mostly.

    Instead of the characters goin' on and on about themself, try letting their body do the talkin'.
    In romance novels, there is a lot of conversation goin' on between the characters with just body language alone.
    Not to mention it informs reader about character.

    Example;
    If a woman moves with elegance of dancer, it might say she's confident about body. That she finds herself sexy, and she not ashamed.
    If a guy takes long strides to walk, could say he's used to bein' in a rush.

    For dialogue by body, think about in real life.
    When you see a nod of head, it means someone is agreeing to something or pointin' something out.

    Example;
    He elbowed his friend in the ribs then nodded his head towards the brunette that drifted down the hallway.

    Simple sentence, lots of dialogue in own right.


    Avoid long-winded dialogues.
    Remember, interruptions.
    No one has time to monolgue, something always intervenes.
    It's life.
     
  11. Eclipse~Illusion
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    Eclipse~Illusion New Member

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    I agree with someone else said. Try to find a way to make your plot incorporate with the dialogue. Even if some random event happens (like something falling, someone almost dying, etc.) while the two characters are talking with each other.
     
  12. Kube
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    I think I've come up with a solution. If I do cut this character's full story in lieu of a heavily shortened version, I may post his full story to my website as a way to create excitement about the book.
     
  13. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't try to shut him up in the first draft, this could be a way of letting you know this (and other) character better. Just write whatever you want and leave the filtering for the next draft.
     
  14. Felipe
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    Felipe Active Member

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    It's your work so of course, do what you think is best. I find that interest in my books creates excitement and drives traffic to my website which needs to be uncluttered and a fun, informative place to see my characters, not read about them. All of my main characters are based on real people that I know and I do have their pictures there. When you base a character on someone that you already know (who would fit that role) the fleshing out of that person becomes a lot easier. You know their nuances and even mannerisms.

    As I said, it this character goes on about himself, it can be a sign of extreme confidence. Write it, you can always go back and mince it up into smaller pieces if you wish.
     
  15. Tzalosrex
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    Tzalosrex New Member

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    Hey, All! Totally new here. I actually just joined when I came across this thread. Kube, I have the same sort of problem, except that instead of exposition, my characters just seem to want to chat about nothing or bicker about what they are doing. (I feel like they're actors in a film shoot who won't do what they're told.) Tesoro, I feel that's good advice, thank you for it! Hopefully my characters will shut up and get on with their quest! :)
     
  16. MVP
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    Kill him off, he'll shut up, I promise.
    Plus it will get your other characters moving.
     
  17. iamnotaweed
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    iamnotaweed New Member

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    Sometimes while reading I find myself skipping over paragraphs of description and going in search of dialogue. It is my favorite part of most books, how the protagonist interacts with the rest of the world... However, if you feel like it's hindering progress, perhaps you should just open a separate word doc and write down what you think the character needs to say and you will have something for them to talk about later. ♥
     
  18. Kube
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    Kube Member

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    Seems a bit drastic. Just because he's not a major character doesn't mean he doesn't have an important role to play. Consider him a sort of a Yoda character (from the original series). He may die in time but not until the time is right.
     
  19. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've found that too. I had the opposite problem in that I didn't have enough dialogue in the first draft.

    It's probably easier to have a bit too much, and then cut it down later. Or leave it as it is. Some writers use a lot of dialogue and it can work nicely.
     
  20. Devrokon
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    Devrokon Senior Member

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    Let them talk, I dare say. What's the worst that can happen? Eventually, setting, description, and action will follow, or you can write in those scenes later. Don't stiffle your own creativity by imposing barriers.
     
  21. ScreamsfromtheCrematory
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    Well, is any of what they're talking about something that you could simply display or explain without having to actually use dialogue? If you feel the dialogue contains that sort of content, then perhaps you can portray it to the reader in a more hands-on way. This isn't to say simply having them talk about it is bad, but there are always alternatives which are limited only by your imagination. A bit cliche but there's always the good old "flashback" solution, a scene/location-switch, a "summary" of the dialogue where basically the narrator sums up what they spoke of and so on.

    Of course, you could just combine all of these with their dialogue and help produce a more fleshed out picture; in the midst of their talking they could recollect memories of particular experiences, theorize about certain possibilities, wonder and imagine of what they're hearing of implies and so on.
     
  22. agentkilljoy_v
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    Remember when writing a story, the characters are the ones telling the story. The writer takes a back seat and allows the characters to express themselves through the writer’s words. After all, you can always edit later after the story is finished. One mistake that a lot of writers make is not letting their writing flow from beginning to end. Turn off your editor for now.
     
  23. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Don't do that, keep your dialogue.

    Just don't have pages full of static dialogue. Have your characters doing something while they talk. Add action and movements to your dialogue tags. Keep them fresh and interesting. That way people will never notice you have a lot of dialogue. They will be too caught up in imaging the scene you have laid out before them.

    Also, you do not need to info dump every characteristic about your characters right away. Let the info come out naturally and with progression. You want character development to happen over time so your readers will be interested and want to keep reading to find out more.
     
  24. je33ie
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    There is nothing wrong with long dialogue as long as it is interesting and relevant to the story.

    I've just started reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt and the first chapter is 95% dialogue. And BIG chunks of dialogue where a paragraph of speaking will take up almost a whole page. You know pretty much nothing about the narrator of the book until the second chapter, as it's mostly monologue (in the form of interviews) of other characters in the book. The characters have very interesting stuff to say though, and I haven't once got bored with it.

    Although, John Berendt has also added a fair bit of "he said, while he lit his cigar" or "she mumbled as she ran her fingers through her white hair" so there's a bit of action to break it up here and there.
     
  25. UberNoodle
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    UberNoodle Senior Member

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    I love writing dialogue yet there are writers who don't. There are all kinds of theories I have been told on how to balance description and dialogue, but those rules work perfectly for their stories, but perhaps, for generations of writers now raised simultaneously with both literature and film, the aesthetic will change. Imagine, therefore, a Tarantino script novelised. Would it be the same without pages of his glorious dialogue? I read The Penultimate Truth by PKD and I was amazed at how dialogue heavy it was. Yet it was great, and it flowed so well. A joy to read.
     

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