1. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Too much Dialogue?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by DeathandGrim, Mar 15, 2013.

    I'm sort of used to developing plot and story through character dialogue rather than exposition. I find it helps to develop the characters and character relation by explaining the plot to the extent that they know.

    But what I wonder is using too much dialogue a bad thing? Because sometimes I tend to have Metal Gear length scenes of dialogue
     
  2. erebh
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    erebh Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like dialogue. I prefer a conversation to fill me in rather than an info dump or a whole page of boring purple prose.

    Actually I asked that question here recently and was told basically to do what fits. My book is about 65/35 dailogue/everything else - i like it...
     
  3. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Lots of dialogue in my novel too. I'm having to work at the physical scene.

    It really depends on the story and in my case the interactions of the characters is the story. The setting adds flavor, but it isn't the main course.
     
  4. rhduke
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    rhduke Contributing Member Reviewer

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    I think lots of dialog is fine as long as it has purpose and is interesting enough for the reader. I'm currently reading this epic, that is like 80% dialog, but the problem is all the characters sound the exact same when they talk so I never know who's talking and I get bored very quickly. Just something to watch out for.
     
  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    There seems to be a lot of preference, these days, towards writing dialog as opposed to 'purple prose.'

    Dialog is not a magic bullet to improve your writing skills. Mixed in with well-written, meaningful and focused pinky-violet prose, it can do huge wonderful things with characterisation AND plot progression. However, churned-out dialog, spoken by characters we don't really care about, is just as boring and uninvolving as tons of prose. Info-dumps happen in dialog, too. So does a lot of time-wasting.

    I think the more I interact on this forum, the more resistant I've become to the idea of any formula, as applied to writing. There is no formula. If you care deeply about your characters, enjoy being in your chosen setting with them, then do your best to draw readers into that world. Make them feel what you are feeling. (Don't just tell them what you want them to see or hear.) This takes time AND skill. However, if you do this with care, you will succeed. If you become too focused on style, you won't. There is no single 'right' kind of book. Just write the one that's right for you, then polish it till it shines.
     
  6. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Too much dialogue...? Never.

    Too much stupid dialogue? Yeah.
    But then its not the quantity that's the problem.
     
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  7. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    One of my favourite books The Count of Monte Cristo is written mainly in dialogue, huge chunks of it too. Having said that, I don't know anyone else who can pull that off. So it all depends on whether your dialogue is good or not :)
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    true...

    as for whether there's 'too much' of it, or not, no one can tell you that without reading it...
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    One of the most intriguing novels in my experience is, in a sense, all dialogue. Taylor Caldwell's "Dialogues With the Devil" begins with a letter from Satan to God and then becomes a correspondence between Satan and Michael the Archangel. No narrative at all, and very compelling stuff.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, by definition. The trick is to know when you are using too much dialogue.

    Dialogue is not, primarily, a means to break up narrative for variety. Yes, that can be a secondary benefit, but dialogue is inherently more difficult reading than narrative, because every change of speaker is a change ove viewpoint.

    Good dialogue delivers more than what is literally spoken. Good dialogue reveals emotional state, motivations, and relationships as well. Very often, what is not said speaks louder than what is said. If your dialogue is not performing in this regard, you may be better off with narrative.
     
  11. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Using dialogue to explain plot, if you don't do it right, becomes a very cheap way of telling your story by easily stating points ABC and making characters ask essentially stupid questions. To get your set-up right for such expository dialogue is quite difficult in itself. I'm not saying never use dialogue for explaining plot, I'm saying it becomes a cheap cop-out very easily if you don't do it right.

    It's silly to ask such a question anyway because all your readers are different. My friend, a woman in her 60s, says she hates dialogue. She often skims or even skips entire sections of dialogue. What she loves is exposition and description, the slowly unfolding of a scene or character. Would my friends in their 20s say the same? Can't tell, it depends on their personality doesn't it? My ex loves historical detail, and he's my age. I loved Hunger Games for its simplicity and poetic language. Plenty of people love LOTR (the book) and I can't stand to read it because I can't stand the sheer amount of unnecessary descriptions and I need more story.

    So, should you use more dialogue or more narrative? In the end, do whatever your story requires. Taste will differ and if you try to please everyone, you won't end up writing at all because you'll be too busy changing it every time someone says they don't like something.
     
  12. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    I agree. Dialogue's a fine line between good and chintzy, and that's what each author has to learn on their own. I have a fair share of dialogue in my novel, but if it's not interaction with the villains (of which I have many that then build up to a single one in the end.) then it's between the ensemble cast of main characters I have. With them being sisters, there's all sorts of ways to inject humor even into a busiest battle scene.

    It's a skill that has to be developed like everything else. And, if you're lucky and you have characters that you really can relate to, or truly come from your heart, then it's easy to get the nice, flowing dialogue.
     

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