1. I'interieur de ame
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    I'interieur de ame Banned

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    To much Dialog

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by I'interieur de ame, Aug 10, 2009.

    I would be intrested in knowing when there is too much dialog in one page. I'm puzzled adding to much of a conversation on a single page. How do you make it sound good?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I don't have a quantitative measure to offer, but to my mind a full page of uninterrupted dialogue is too much. At the very least you need beats in the dialogue to break it up. Maybe someone shifts nervously before raising an uncomfortable point, of someone scowls at a statement she disagrees with.

    The reader doesn't want to sit through a talking heads marathon (No, I don't mean the band). Break up the verbal volleying. Interrupt lengthy sermons by one character. Do it literally, such as a waiter arriving with a food order, so everyone shuts up until he has left the table, at which point the discussion may even get sidetracked.

    Our own Terry Erwin has published a short story, Vegetable Matters, in Mindflight, that illustrates this beautifully. One of the characters is telling his story to a journalist as they travel to the climactic setting. Terry keeps the reader hanging on the character's tale through well-timed interruptions. If he simply let the character ramble on, the reader would give up long before the end. But like the journalist, the reader becomes anxious to drag the story, piece by piece, from the main character.
     
  3. I'interieur de ame
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    I'interieur de ame Banned

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    I want to understand this, I need to break up the dialog by explaining actions?
     
  4. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    Actions and thoughts that are pertinant to the situation. Sit in a cafe and check out what happens between two people involved in a conversation. They don't just blatter away at each other, but gesticulate and carry out actions to convey meaning or even to communicate subtext. They'll pause to eat or drink, and you may be able to 'see' their thought process as they digest the conversation's subject matter. Their actions/reactions will be as a result of a specific action carried out by one or the other, as well as how they are affected by their surroundings. Don't forget non-verbal communication and how such can be interpreted/misinterpreted, often leading to the relationship of the moment taking a new direction. So much to consider. Good luck with your writing.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sometimes they will even monologue one another - neither is really listening to the other, they are just talking their own agendas. Or one will suddenly veer off onto a tangent because he or she doesn't want to acknowledge what was just said or asked.

    What is not said may be even more important than what is.
     
  6. Kas
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    Kas Contributing Member

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    Cheeno, you are creepy. . .:p

    Listen to the peeper! It's good stuff.
     
  7. Henry The Purple
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    Henry The Purple Active Member

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    Some novels, like The Picture Of Dorian Grey and The Count of Monte Cristo rely heavily on dialogue, while other novels, such as The Bloody Chamber, make scant use of it. It depends on what you're writing, how many characters you have etc. Some stories need lots of it, others don't...
     
  8. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    If you have too much dialogue and little of everything else, you can try turning it into a play. You won't have to rely on description much, so you can then focus on strengthening the dialogue.
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's good advice from both cheeno and cog... take it!
     
  10. I'interieur de ame
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    I'interieur de ame Banned

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    okay
     
  11. marcusl
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    marcusl Member

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    My question is kind of related so I figured I'll post it here. A friend of my suggested to reserve using dialogue for important scenes. What do you guys think about that idea? Thank you.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A scene can be important for the dialogue alone. It can also be a distraction in a scene that needs to focus on the actions of the characters.

    Dialogue is a powerful writing tool, and is practically an art form in itself. Often what is NOT said is more important than what is.

    Try to avoid showing chit chat, unless the chit chat carries an emotional subtext of its own. For instance, a girl discovers she is pregnant, and rushes go see her boyfriend, but all she ends up talking about is the fine spring weather, and new flowers popping up, and needing to clean her room. All somewhat symbolic, but circling wat is really on her mind. Meanwhile the boyfreind is talking about going on a road trip for the summer, and seeing the country - freedom symbols. The subtext tells everything, but the words themselves seem trivial.

    This is the power of dialogue.
     

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