1. TonyMiser
    Offline

    TonyMiser New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Oklahoma City

    Non-dialogue options in a long dialogue exchange?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TonyMiser, Jun 17, 2012.

    I'm looking for interesting ways of breaking up some of the longer dialogue exchanges in the novel I'm working on. If two or more people are simply standing in one place and talking for an extended period, I don't feel like I have a lot of non-dialogue options beyond delving into the characters' thought processes and bodily mannerisms. But I don't want to lose the reader in a sea of dialogue.

    Ideas?
     
  2. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    Make it as interesting as possible and cut away everything that is not necessary / advance the story/character/add suspence. In short, don't make them chat about the weather and other unimportant stuff for 6 pages if the essence comes in the end of the fourth page.
     
  3. killbill
    Offline

    killbill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    where the mind is without fear...
    What Tesoro said, and check if you are info dumping in the dialogues. If everything mentioned is checked and involves interesting dialogue subtext, I don't mind long dialogue exchanges.
     
  4. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Pare down the content to get rid of fluff.

    Use beats often to reduce the number of dialogue tags needed, and to repeatedly anchor the dialogue to the setting. See He said, she said - Mechanics of Dialogue if you are unfamiliar with beats.

    Interrupt lengthy exposition at the most interesting points. Not only does this break the long dialogue into more palatable pieces, it builds anticipation in the reader. Try to find a story called Vegetable Matters by site member Terry Ervin II for an excellent example.
     
  5. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    even if the speakers are standing still, they're still doing something... they're reacting in some way to what the other is saying, fidgeting, or looking here and there, and so on... so give the readers a visual connection to the scene, too, and not just the chit-chat... insert these bits in appropriate parts of the dialog and it won't be so boring...
     
  6. Nee
    Offline

    Nee Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2013
    Messages:
    713
    Likes Received:
    23
    Also, you can insert small intrusions of the outside world into the scene: say they are sitting in a park at a picnic table, then as Cogito says, at a high point of interest in their dialogue have one of them notice:
    Two ants in a tug-of-war over a bread crumb.
    Or a low flying airplane roars over head.
    A distressed old lady clutching a dog leash asks if they saw her puddle fluffy.
    Or have a frizbee bounce off the head of the speaker...whatever.

    Just as this set-up anticipation in reader, it also allows them to pause and reflect upon what has been said up to this point. :)
     
  7. jazzabel
    Offline

    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2012
    Messages:
    4,273
    Likes Received:
    1,666
    You need to "show" only the important dialogue. Filler dialogue (or actions) can simply be referred to briefly, spelling out that they spoke about (or did) this and that and then resume the important dialogue.
     
  8. Nick Kilcoyne
    Offline

    Nick Kilcoyne Member

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2012
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    You could have one of the character's participating in a hobby of some sort while the conversation went on.

    One could be sculpting a statue of Mickey Mouse, he could be painting a picture of Mickey Mouse, making Mickey Mouse shaped pancakes or any number of Mickey Mouse related activities.
     
  9. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,723
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    He'd better be careful, Nick. The Disney company takes a dim view of people making unauthorized images of their characters, and they have battalions of big, strong lawyers.

    On the other hand, if Mickey Mouse were sculpting the character as the conversation went on, that might be rather surreal.

    :)
     

Share This Page