1. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Too Much Dialogue?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Killer300, May 23, 2012.

    I feel like I'm writing too much dialogue, like it being every other line, and... well, the reason I talk it be here is this. Is this always bad, or are there ways to make that much dialogue stay interesting? Or is this doomed to cause the reader to be bored, because I'm telling them too much? I find this happens pretty much in whatever I write nowadays, and don't quite know why.
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    If you find you are writing mostly dialogue, there are (at least) two ways to go:

    If most of the dialogue is chit chat, practice honing it down to the essence, the part that actually advances character and/or plot development.

    or

    Consider scripts instead of novels and short stories.
     
  3. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    You know, the second occurred to me before, because I know so little about script writing, but yes, thank you on both counts. I'm going to try with the first, although I do try to keep it as natural as possible. Still, thank you, you have provided me good ideas for it.
     
  4. Skodt
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    Skodt Member

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    If you find yourself talking emotions. Use description to describe them in unique ways instead. If you find yourself speaking directions use your actions to point directions. Anything that can be described outside of dialouge should be.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Remember that you want the illusion of natural speech, not the reality.

    Real conversation is boring. If you doubt that, listen to a wiretap transcript. The topic being discussed may be of great interest, or even historical significance, but the transcript is dull as dung.
     
  6. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    K, my novel is currently 58,233 Words long. 40199 of those words are apart of dialogue. [Simply commanded Word to replace “*” with nothing (including wildcards) and subtracted the non-quoted words remaining from the total Words in the document.] So if anyone knows a thing or two about going overboard on dialogue in a novel it's me. And in my opinion, characters are what make a great story and their words/thoughts are what give the reader that connection to them that keeps them reading. A book full of details is called a textbook. A book full of words is called a script. One is way more entertaining than the other, I'll leave it to you to figure out why that is? ;)
     
  7. Skodt
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    Skodt Member

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    ^If you are good enough at it then description will move your character sometimes better then any speaking. My characters do their fair share of talking in my novel, but describing them and their actions can speak louder than their words.
     
  8. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    Guess I should have noted that the novel is about story telling and everyone in the novel is in one form or another a storyteller. So it's dialogue but not in the normal sense of the word.
     
  9. Jenny Masters
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    Jenny Masters Member

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    Watch THE TERMINATOR.

    See how there is very little dialogue in Act I and then very little from thereon, really, relatively. All very economical.

    Whether screenplay or novel, it's the action and movement that make the story - even in a novel, I think the dialogue should support the action and movement.
     
  10. AmyHolt
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    AmyHolt Contributing Member

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    Totally agree.

    Something else to keep in mind - my first draft is often very dialogue based. I hear the characters talking and try to get it all down as fast as possible. Then I have to go back through and add movement and a sense of place. So if this is your first pass through the story I wouldn't worry too much about it being dialogue heavy.
     
  11. Caeben
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    I don't entirely agree with you. While action and movement are obviously important, they are much more important in a screenplay for a movie, TV show, or play. In a novel, however, you can very easily end up describing too much action, too much movement, and simply have too much description (I'm looking at you, George RR Martin). There needs to be a balance between dialogue and description, and I believe that description should support dialogue. Can dialogue become boring? Sure, and I'm not convinced that that's a bad thing. Real life is incredibly boring, and I think it is more representative to include occasional boring moments within characters' lives. It's more realistic and I think that it makes it easier to identify with characters.
     
  12. Lumipon
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    I don't really get what this statement means. Supporting action and movement seems so nondiscript and broad. Is it discussing motivation? Narrating it in dialogue/monologue? Do you mean action sequences or acting in general? Because I know a sweet boos that do not use combat at all. And the movement is moving from one country to another. The story is pretty abstract, a first person identity crisis. A little of what you could call movement and nothing like "action".

    Could someone give an example please :3
     
  13. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Of course real life is boring. That's why people read novels - they want to escape the boredom and live, at least vicariously, far more interesting lives than they actually have. Novels shouldn't attempt to duplicate real life; they should attempt to capture a heightened version of life - life more exciting and electric than real life is. It's a bad decision to knowingly bore the reader. Including deliberately boring material in order to be "representative" and "realistic" is robbing the novel of its strength and transforming it from art to mundanity.
     
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  14. Caeben
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    Which is why I said occasionally and not always and everywhere. Dialogue can, and perhaps should occasionally, indulge in the mundane facts of whatever setting the novel exists in, and I don't believe that "robs" a novel of its strength. Crappy writing, crappy plot arcs, crappy characters, and large plot holes do more to damage the novel as art than an occasional "boring" moment, never mind the fact that reading something as boring is a highly subjective exercise. I happen to like bits in a novel that revel in the mundane because, for me, I like my literature to be occasionally grounded in a dose of reality. A lot of other people don't, and that's completely fair.
     
  15. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Dialogue is not just conversation. Dialogue is a subset of writing that reveals character and plot, primarily through showing.

    Dialogue should not be boring, any more than narrative should be boring. The author should select the dialogue to show with as much care as he or she decides what to put into narrative, and what to omit.

    Dialogue should not be a literal reflection of real conversation. It should present the illusion of real conversation. Therein lies the artistry.
     
  16. Killer300
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    Killer300 Active Member

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    Yes, a lesson I'm still learning, in regards to doing that balancing act.

    But yes, I'll look into cutting my dialogue through being more economical in its usage, and try to get other parts better.
     
  17. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    Watching TV in general I think can shift your writing from less dialogue to more action and description. I used to read books and pretty much never watch TV, and I really struggled with the 'talking heads' problem (scenes that are almost entirely dialogue, to the point where you may not even know where the characters are located). Then I started watching TV shows for fun, and I've found myself often visualizing a scene as if it were on TV, then trying to translate that into words.
     
  18. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    If by "writing too much dialogue" you mean "using it as filler", then trim it down.

    But dialogue can carry the story and movement just as well as actions can. You can use dialogue to describe how someone changes convictions, or reveals something by mistake, or comes into conflict with another person, or resolves their conflict with another person, and so on.

    As long as the dialogue contains something meaningful -- like story or characterisation -- it can be made interesting.
     

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