1. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    Pace and Dialogue

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by B-Gas, Jul 3, 2008.

    I'm looking for some general advice, this time.

    How much talking should there be in a novel? I've noticed that my story is quickly becoming more than fifty percent dialogue- is this a bad thing?

    The other thing is that my dialogue has a tendency to slow the pace of the novel- is a slower-paced book less enjoyable than a fast-paced one? I anticipate that the pace will increase once both sides are fully drawn up and the action sequences start.
     
  2. DreamSong
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    DreamSong Member

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    When I read, I like to feel a connection to the story through the character, setting, and plot. Basically, I like to feel like I have a pretty good mental image of what's going on. If the dialogue interferes with the other components of the story (setting or action details) then I would struggle to keep my mental image accurate and lose interest. Also, if the dialogue involves a lot of long passages without a lot of back and forth action between characters or anything outside of dialogue to break up the 'voices,' I would also struggle to pay attention. (I hope that was clear as mud...)

    As for the question about pacing, it would be fine either way for me. I'm not one to put aside a story just because it builds slower or progresses at a slower rate. As long as it feels like it is going somewhere, I am perfectly fine with reading patiently to the end. But that's just my personal taste.

    I hope that helps a little.​
     
  3. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    It's heavy back-and-forth. I've read too much stuff about writing comic books, breaking up dialogue, keeping individual dialogue chunks short and sweet, to let my characters give speeches anymore.

    And I'm careful to keep my dialogue broken up with actions of the various characters. The problem is, there almost isn't anything going on that doesn't have at least two characters talking the whole time- they'll pause to reflect, to think, to take notice of their surroundings *cough*infodumps*cough* but as a rule, two people, minimum, are always in conversation.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    50% is an awful lot of dialogue. Be careful about it turning into a "talking heads" piece of writing. Make sure the reader sees plenty of context and setting around the conversations. Show how the participants react to what the other person is saying. Does someone stand up and pace back and forth, agitated by what the othger person just said? Does someone begin to sweat because what the other person said is hitting close to home? What is happening around them as they speak? A ticking grandfather clock and lengthening shadows as the talk runs late into the evening?

    Build the atmosphere, and maybe you'll even find that some of your dialogue can be left unspoken.
     
  5. Sato Ayako
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    Sato Ayako Contributing Member

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    Dialogue speeds up the pacing of a story by making it read faster. Dialogue reads a lot quicker than, say, two paragraphs of narrative summary, or even an entire scene. Dialogue is also used to help create tension and characterize.

    If your dialogue is slowing the pacing of your book, then you have too much. You're letting yoru characters talk too much. You shouldn't have to "draw up" both sides. They should "draw up" as you write the story. A story that's more than fifty percent dialogue isn't necessarily a bad thing--almost anything can work in literature--but from experience, an overload of anything in a story is going to make it fail.

    Throw your characters into the action. Have them build themselves and each other up as they go along. If you have so much dialogue, that tells me that you spend more time letting the characters talk and less time creating tension, setting, etc.
     
  6. Leo
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    Leo Senior Member

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    You sure it's not meant to be a play?

    Maybe think of it like a play, and think of the stage directions you would give your actors. That way you can work out what everyone is meant to be doing with their body language as well as their speech, which might help you break down the dialogue.

    Or just leave it how it is if that works better. Don't feel pressured into anything just because you think it "should" be one way or the other. I'm reading A Farewell To Arms by Hemingway at the moment, and many of his scenes are pure dialogue. And I think it works well.
     
  7. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    The one thing that concerns me about your post is that you talk about picking up the pace once the "action sequences start". That may be too late. If you have lost the reader's interest before he or she gets to the fun stuff, then it's over. The book becomes a thick coffee coaster. On the other hand, if you start the story with excitement, then most readers will forgive a slow section because you've implied a "promise" of future action and caught their interest.

    The bottom line is YOU, as a writer, dictate the pace...it's not arbitrary.

    .....NaCl
     
  8. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    I see your point. But what I meant by 'action sequences' were the longer periods of sustained, non-spoken activity- continuous fight scenes, large descriptive passages of monsters, dream sequences, et cetera. There is plenty of action before that- small character-development fight scenes, omens of things to come, et cetera. I had posted the first chapter on this site earlier- with Cog's blessing, I could bump it for you to read...

    Here's my sample.
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Do not bump posts. Instead, put a link in your message above
     
  10. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    Great piece of advice. I wonder how I can get examples or something that really can show this in-depth. Honestly, I think my vocabulary may be a little bit weak.
     

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