1. Norin
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    Norin New Member

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    How to make the dialogue interesting?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Norin, Jan 19, 2012.

    :confused::confused::confused:
    I am seriously stuck in my novel, because I have no idea on how to make the dialogue between the protagonists interesting!
    Does anyone have any suggestions on how to counter this?
     
  2. Berber
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    Berber Active Member

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    I think one of the biggest issues I see in dialogue (and that I personally struggle with) is that it's mostly exposition. By this I mean that dialogue falls flat because it's pure question, statement, explanation, question, statement, etc used to clarify things and move the story along. While that certainly is a use for dialogue, it should not be its only function. Instead of focusing on exposition, perhaps try counteracting dullness by getting inside your characters' heads and making their words more emotion driven - not in an over the top manner, but as a means for cluing your reader in on the character's state of mind. Try making every line of dialogue reflective of the character speaking it. It helps if your characters have very distinctive and well-defined personalities so that you may layer dialogue with their particular mannerisms.

    Something I tend to do when I fear my dialogue is leaning too much towards exposition is ask, Would my character actually say this, or is he/she just saying it for the sake of the reader's understanding? If it's the latter, than I throw the dialogue out and try to find a new way to work in the information.

    Of course, there are times when it is almost impossible to avoid a character telling the full back story of the history of time over the course of an entire page. When you can't change content, individual mannerisms come in handy to at least liven how the content is shared.

    So basically, try to make your dialogue more revealing of character than plot, and this may help it be more engaging as well.
     
  3. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    First you need to state what is it you wanted to say..so if you can give us some details then one mighe take it from there.
     
  4. Norin
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    Norin New Member

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    Well, there is Laia and Minke, to girls of 19 and 16 and they are alone in the Amber Forest, while Laia's brother, Norin (;)) has been taken hostage by some royal soldiers. He has broken a law and so they are taking him to the kingdom's capital for the trial. And while they were returning home to ask their parents for guidance, the head of the Mgicians Conclave, also called the Mother Priestess, came to them sudenly and told them that the have to let Norin manage himself while she would also halp him, so that they could go to the city of Nodak to meet a certain man. (they don't know what will happen there)
    So now they are in the forest, as I've said before, and have to flay the skin of a deer they hunted. So they must tell each other how, but I don't know how to make them tell this. I also though of making them going to the place that Norin was captured by the soldiers, were they will find his backpack and his hunting knife. That's part of the story so far. :)

    Also thank you so far for your thoughts on this!
     
  5. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Laia and Minke must have different personalities in order to clash or conjur up an interesting dialogue.
    Dialogues/conversations have to have a bit of everything emotions/visuals/sounds/colours and motives.
    for example
    if Laia is sweet tempered girl and slightely hesitant and Minke is boyinsh loud and slightely edgy then the conversation is bound to turn one fiery with a twist Minke's way and leading Laia is more fun. Haha tome anyway

    if both Laia and Minke are of striking similarities(not looks) temperament wise then both would either disagree or agree depending on the situation.
    In any case if the dialogue is leading
    then that can get tricky.

    Laia might say: what do we do now?
    Minke will smile then say: Well what do you think. There is only one way to find out. Let's get the tools(knife) and see what happens.
    Laia might say nervously: I am not so sure I want to do any flaying...I am feeling sick and I do not like the sight of blood...it is such a sweet creature,I feel bad already..
    Minke would then respond: come one what you are worried about..it is dead now we might as well finish it up.l..et me show you..

    In other words one has to take the lead in conversation and the other should follow respond or not.
    also what is it you are wanting to achieve in a dialogue is a good point.
    May be this is not what you are looking for..
     
  6. Berber
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    Berber Active Member

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    This is a prime example of what I was talking about with exposition, and I have to politely disagree with Cacian's advice. What she gives is the question, response entrapment that's too straight forward and expository. Instead of having your characters talk about doing something, have them actually do the action, and talk around it. By that I mean, your reader should understand what is going on without the dialogue - your dialogue should not serve as a play-by-play. Remember you want to be more revealing of character than plot or setting. Also, avoid outright statements of feelings - there is so much more that can be gathered from what's not said than what is.

    What your focus should be with this dialogue is not the technical aspects of flaying a deer, that's what you have exposition for. Instead ask yourself, What can I show the reader about my character by making them flay a deer? That's what's important. Are they disgusted by it, intrigued, hesitant, eager, frustrated, patient? Are they even successful? Showing these emotions in your dialogue will help give characterization.

    Below I've written out an example of what I mean so that you can understand what I'm trying to get at. Please don't take it as me trying to write you work:


    "Seems easy enough..." weighed Laia, holding her dagger sideways and tilting her head to examine their kill. She leaned over the deer with slight trepidation before drawing the blade against the animals skin. A river of blood flowed from the gaping wound as Laia let out a low curse.
    "Are you sure you know what you're doing?" called Minke curiously from the opposite of the smouldering fire.
    "Of course I know what I'm doing," spat Laia, widening the seeping hole in the deer's side, ripping through the gut and filling the air with a vile stench.
    "You know I -"
    "Please, Minke. I've got this."
    "But I can -"
    "Do you want meat tonight or not?" The younger of the pair quieted as Laia surveyed the carcass lying before her. She knelt in a mess of blood, half digested food, and fluids she did not care to identify. Ruined she thought with dismay, shoving her dagger in the dirt. "Well I guess we're eating rice then. Happy now?" Laia started when she stood to find Minke right behind her, a knowing smile on her child-like face.
    "Here," Mink said softly, pulling the dagger from the ground. "Let me show you." She set to work cleaning the fallen doe with extreme precision and a bizarre affection that put Laia's careless gauges to shame.
     
  7. Mark_Archibald
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    Mark_Archibald Active Member

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    One of the things that I do is play talk radio while I'm writing (namely a sports network). And I study the dialogue used when they are trying to get a point across, or when an argument comes up.

    Another tip I have is that when writing dialogue don't have the same character initiate every conversation. Its easy to have your protagonist be the first to speak in each scene so mix it up a bit.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Make sure the dialogue tells the reader something yjey need to know. Not just in the literal speech, either. Show the reader the speaker's attitude toward the people he or she is speaking with, what kinds of things matter to the speaker, and what he or she avoids talking about.

    Every piece of dialogue should have a purpose. If it doesn't, slice it out.
     
  9. Norin
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    Norin New Member

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    Thank you all very much! I'm quite good now to keep on writing on my novel! :D
     
  10. kablooblab
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    kablooblab Member

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    I was going to suggest the opposite. No one but the most boring people talks just for a purpose. Most people speak just whats on their mind. So if you want to make your characters more realistic and relateable have them say whats on their mind, even if it doesn't give any information what at all, and make up words too and they don't need to speak with perfect grammar either. This way your characters will seem like people, not tools to give the reader information.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I wasn't talking about the character's purpose, I was talking about the writer's purpose.

    Don't feel you have to capture every mundame conversation. Quite the opposite. You choose the dialogue to report, and shape it to your needs. Your purpose is not to provide a transcript of the conversations, but to reveal character and advance the plot. You want the illusion of realism, but not a literal reflection of reality. Because real conversation is boring. If you doubt that, read a transcript sometime.
     
  12. Kallithrix
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    Kallithrix Banned

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    The only thing I would criticise about this piece is the 'said bookisms' you use - 'weighed'? Can that even be used to describe how someone speaks? Then you've got 'called' and 'spat' - I don't think either are necessary, or particularly appropriate. Much better were the places where you just used a beat or line of description as an attribution. But in general, I liked :)
     

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