1. Donal
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    Donal Contributing Member

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    Importance of Dialogue

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Donal, Dec 2, 2010.

    Just something I was wondering about. Do you think it is possible to write a successful and readable short story (novel is unrealistic) that has no dialouge between the characters. Or is dialouge of such importance that although it could in theory be done, the story would not read properly without it.
     
  2. Hartnell
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    Hartnell Member

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    I don't see why not. I have written a few without dialogue between characters, but they do contain internal dialogue.
     
  3. R-e-n-n-a-t
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    R-e-n-n-a-t Contributing Member

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    The novel I'm attempting now has a couple werewolf characters, including the protagonist, and thus there can be no spoken dialogue during large chunks of the book. Besides internal dialogue, the characters are also revealed through actions and nonverbal communication. It seems to be working.
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    You can definitely pull it off, especially if it's the type of short story where there's only one main character. However, make sure you're not just describing action (readers should be able to be, not see, the character)
     
  5. Celia.
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    Celia. Senior Member

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    It certainly is possible even for a novel. One book that comes to mind is The Incredible Journey where the only dialogue is the very beginning with the master to his animals and the end when they find their masters. The rest is actions and internal dialogue if I remember correctly.
     
  6. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've read a fair few short stories without dialogue that have been enjoyable, and a good read, so it's definitely possible to write a good short story without dialogue.
     
  7. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, it's certainly possible. I wrote a short story like that only recently.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    short story, yes... novel, no...
     
  9. SRCroft
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    SRCroft Member

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    Publishing Vs creating a story

    There are two questions, what do you enjoy and what your plan's are for the story. Do you plan to try to get it published? It was way more popular to use a lot of narrative in older works of fiction. If publishing is your plan and the story is amazing and unique, I am sure it's possible that it will sell.

    Typically a high percentage of casual readers actually look for negative space when leafing through a book. Also if the narrative gets boring (which is hard to have happen without dialogue), a book agent will probably shy away from it. Historical fiction has a lot of narrative, but even that had headed toward dialogue.

    Having said what is typical, that doesn't mean at all that you shouldn't do it. If your stuff is amazing and you test it with peers, and it holds strong, maybe you have something unique. Being different isn't always bad.

    I do the same thing, but my purpose is capturing the idea of a novel in the moment. When I come up with a story, I tend to create the story in a huge mess of narrative and action, only adding a few pieces of dialogue that strike me at the time. Its way faster for me to get down a whole novel of thought in 50 pages on solid block text.
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I enjoyed Something Like a House by Sid Smith - slow start but he manages interactions later so well I forgave the beginning.

    Novels have accomplished it as have short stories. I didn't have any in Final Flight.
     
  11. Celia.
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    Celia. Senior Member

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    I don't see an issue with a novel having little to no dialogue. I guess it's personal preference.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    can either of you name 3 successfully published [= put out by traditional paying houses, not by any type of vanity press] contemporary novels that are all narrative, with not a single line of dialog?
     
  13. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not sure do any of Sid Smith's have dialogue? It has been a few years since I read them. He has three out no idea how he published them but they are well thought of enough and well reviewed enough to count. I read him as a result of a blinder of a review in the Independant newspaper. For me it doesn't matter how it was published if I enjoyed the book, personally think self publishing can be a successful way to go especially in the area I live in because local authors are supported by the community. He is a journalist of some regard so he will know his way round the industry enough to do it the way he sees fit.

    I have over time read several others but clearly none of the others made it onto my bookshelves.

    Alan Bennett manages to accomplish purely monologue in some of his works. However they are plays.

    Also just because it is a feat very few have tried does not mean it can't be done. Done well and be riveting.

    They are not fiction but I love Michael Hicks, Antonia Fraser and David Starkey - willing to bet any of them could pull it off. It is just an extension of a good academic essay being able to tell a tale without dialogue. Which is precisely how Sid Smith handles it.
     

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