1. essential life
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    essential life Member

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    Writing dialogue vs. writing everything else

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by essential life, Jul 27, 2009.

    Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying I'm some kind of master of it, in fact I'm just a beginner. But I find writing dialogue is just a heck of a lot easier than writing just about everything else, including action and description. Am I in the minority, or is this often the case?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I would suspect that your dialogue would need work, then. Good dialogue isn't just parroting conversation. Often what is unsaid is far more important than what is said.

    Crafting dialogue is an art form within the art of writing. All the aspects of writing narrative still apply, but good dialogue reveals character in a way that is richer than what you do in narrative alone.

    Dialogue serves to show, rather than tell, if it is done well.

    But easy? No, I don't think so.
     
  3. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    It varies from writer to writer, I think. Everyone has something they are particularly good at.

    Me, I find dialogue to be very easy and fun to write - along with characterization in general, it's my strongest trait as a writer. Others find those same things to be bothersome.
     
  4. CharlieVer
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    CharlieVer New Member Contributor

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    There was a brief moment when I thought dialogue was easier. Now, not so much.

    I have a flashback scene in my prologue, and I've gotten some high compliments for the flow of my dialogue. I've also gotten some criticism of it.

    There are these slaves talking, arguing. They're house slaves in 1819, at Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Virginia.

    People told me, "They don't sound like slaves."

    I said, "They shouldn't. They're Thomas Jefferson's house slaves. They're constantly surrounded by high culture, constantly in conversation with Jefferson."

    But it kept coming up, and I realized, even though they're house slaves in constant contact with one of the greatest minds of his time, they're still slaves, and they're also in contact with field hands and family members who most likely spoke a bit like a Mark Twain slave from Huck Finn.

    Now, I'm going to have to go back and rework it to somehow merge these two worlds, and create believable dialogue between two slaves who have some of the slang of early 19th century field hands, and at the same time, are intelligent and educated by conversation with Jefferson himself.

    I need to seriously research, and I'm daunted by the revision task before me.

    Dialogue? Easy? Hardly.

    Charlie
     
  5. murphcas
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    murphcas Member

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    I find dialogue pretty difficult. Like Charlie said you have to get the right voice in the right setting. Not only that but there are so many different types of dialogue that a writer should learn (or at least understand). Some of them I still have trouble with!

    In a creative writing class I had this past semester my professor gave us a packet on dialogue. There were four packets and he made sure to give us one every week for 4 weeks. For homework we had to write a piece of dialogue for each example. Some forms I found really easy but others I couldn't even attempt.

    I just tried to go find it so I could tell you where he got it from but I have no idea where I put them. I know I kept the packets but I couldn't find them. I'll have to search again later.
     
  6. Ansky
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    Ansky Member

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    I enjoy writing dialogue more than anything else, I think, but I wouldn't call it easy. In addition to making every line sound like something resembling what a person might say, I need to make sure that every line of dialogue is advancing the plot in some way or revealing something about the personality or history of the characters. I also need to make sure that it's in character for the person to say it and that it sounds like something that the character might say and it needs to sound like something that that character would say in that situation, too. Basically, I think that every line of dialogue, along with every other line in the story, should advance the story while taking into account the character saying it and the situation that the characters are currently in. All of that takes quite a bit of thought.
     
  7. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't think I'd have the balls to write slave dialogue like that. As a white guy, it'd just feel wrong.

    I use and write dialogue better than I do almost anything else in life, but I hardly ever put it in my stories.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    'easier' doesn't mean 'better'... cog's views on the writer's art are valid and should be taken seriously...
     
  9. Faith*Hope*Love
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    Faith*Hope*Love Banned

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    Personally, I think that dialogue is difficult, because it makes the story go faster then need be. Explaining the feelings and actions of your characters is really important. I always want my readers to know my characters, to feel them, not just hear them speak.
     
  10. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    I often make a simple outline of what the particular dialogue section should accomplish story-wise, to use as a reference. Because once I put on my actors hat (writing dialogue is the closest you get to acting your characters, I think), the characters will often try to go off-topic and babble about their own stuff. It becomes somewhat schizophrenic to constantly swap between characters and get their personal points across, but it's also the best fun I have with writing. I think my characters go off-topic because people never say directly how they feel - it makes them too vulnerable - they like to beat around the bush, use allegories, anecdotes and body language to convey their true message. Living characters will attempt the same.
     

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