1. agentkirb
    Offline

    agentkirb Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Messages:
    494
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houston

    Large blocks of dialogue

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by agentkirb, Oct 16, 2011.

    I was in the middle of writing a scene that happened to have a lot of dialogue. Before I realized it I had like 30 lines full of back and forth talking between two people with pretty much nothing breaking it up. And it got me thinking... does anyone have a hard and fast rule for breaking up dialogue so that you don't run into that issue? Maybe 30 lines is fine (maybe not in some cases), but I'm sure at some point the reader doesn't want to just hear nothing but conversation. And what do you tend to break up the dialogue with?
     
  2. Batgoat
    Offline

    Batgoat Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2011
    Messages:
    110
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    New Zealand
    Scatter the dialogue with thoughts and actions. Have characters look around the setting and make brief comments about some of the more notable stuff going on around them.
     
  3. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California
    This is where the descriptions of thoughts, actions, surroundings and everything else non-dialogue come into play. You have to find what fits your story and plug it in where needed. I myself have the opposite problem of being overly descriptive.
     
  4. agentkirb
    Offline

    agentkirb Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2009
    Messages:
    494
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Houston
    But do you guys have like a hard and fast rule for how to break up the dialogue? The only thing I can think of off the top of my head is to "group" dialogue based on what the topic is about.
     
  5. Flashfire07
    Offline

    Flashfire07 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2011
    Messages:
    174
    Likes Received:
    4
    30 lines needs description to help break it up and keep the reader aware of who is talking when and to whom, how often you insert these breaks depends on how many people are talking. If it's just two people talking then aim to indicate who is saying which line every.. six lines of dialogue or so, it depends on how long the dialogue is though, so maybe every paragraph of writing insert description to break up the text. Also I would aim to use speech tags at least every three lines (that's descriptive tags, like shrugged, grinned, laughed, etc).
     
  6. Jhunter
    Offline

    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2011
    Messages:
    1,233
    Likes Received:
    45
    Location:
    Southern California
    I don't know if this will help you at all, but this is another way to make so much dialogue seem less. Be warned, this is just a quick made up few examples and is not supposed to be a well written anything.


    Grouping dialogue like this makes a chunk seem less:

    "Hey, how is going?" said bob. "Will you be car pooling with us to the show? Jane said she has a lot of room in her van.
    Plus, the gas is cheaper if we all go together."

    Or adding descriptions like this:

    "Hey, whats up?" said Bob, looking around the area.

    "Not much, what is wrong with you? You seem on edge," said Jane with a worried frown.

    Bob continued to survey the area before he replied, "Nothing, I am fine. Just thought I saw something on the way over."

    Again, these are just quick examples of the first two ways that come to my mind. I am sure there is many others.
     
    1 person likes this.
  7. Batgoat
    Offline

    Batgoat Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2011
    Messages:
    110
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    New Zealand
    There is no hard and fast rule as such, only what "feels" right when you read it back.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. BrighterNexus
    Offline

    BrighterNexus Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2011
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Australia
    What you should keep in mind,, though, is that characters aren't static, and you can describe their actions as you write. Just little actions- just give the readers a sense of what they're doing as they talk, because dialogue kind of gets boring on its' own :V
     
  9. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    no one just talks and does nothing while they're speaking, unless they're completely paralyzed... and even then, they'd be seeing and feeling and perhaps even thinking things.. plus, the person they're talking to will be doing things and/or other things will be happening around them...

    that's the kind of stuff you break up long conversations with!

    you want the reader to not just 'hear' what's being said, but to actually be pulled into the scene... and to do that, you have to make them see and feel it, as well as hear the dialog...
     
    1 person likes this.
  10. TheWritingWriter
    Offline

    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2011
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A little to the left
    As everyone else says! Describe thoughts & actions! What's Johnny doing as he's talking? Is he pacing back & forth? Is he making eggs? Is he in the living room now, because when the conversation just started, he was in the kitchen. Let the reader know what's going on in the background. Build a picture for them. Have fun with it. Be descriptive and write pretty. Make it flow, like the way desert feels after a great dinner, the way it just hits the spot.
     
  11. Silver. Fox
    Offline

    Silver. Fox Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2011
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Belleville, IL
    mmm...dessert...
    OT: It's all pretty much been said.
    Lots of dialogue is fine, but it can get boring after a while. Switch it up and make your readers see what's happening by adding in descriptions, actions, emotions thoughts. It's profit!
     
  12. lostinwebspace
    Offline

    lostinwebspace Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    Messages:
    466
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Canada
    I don't know if there's a hard-and-fast rule for anything in writing. Thirty lines? Maybe it's okay if the characters are robots. If not, at best it's probably so out of character that it's out of species. People don't just freeze or talk monotone when they have a conversation. I have a friend who writes conversations without description. He tells me he'll fill description in on another draft, which is fine, but that first draft reads like a parliament transcript. When characters talk back and forth without body language, it reminds me of two etheral heads floating around. It gets about as emotive as two 1990s modems during the handshaking process.
     

Share This Page