Every writer must learn the dialogue of the great writers who came before him.
This post is not about dialogue marking or how to write dialogue, but more advanced techniques as demonstrated by established writers.
It doesn't matter what genre you write in: every writer needs to improve their dialogue. And whether he's writing a novel or working on a short story, the following examples will help.
Finally, the characters come to life in the dialogue, and the characters are the heart of the fiction.
These fifty examples of great dialogue cover everything from writing comedic dialogue to writing dialogue for two people (and three people!) and focus only on fiction.
1. Use an ellipsis to avoid saying harsh things
A Visit from the Goon Squad, Jennifer Egan
His arms were a beautiful tan, though a few pink spots marred the skin on one wrist. Scar. Dolly stared at her. "Kitty, are those…?" she stuttered herself. "In your arms, are they...?"
"It burns," Kitty said. I made them myself.
If you have a truth that a character can't acknowledge, don't let them say it out loud. Let her interrupt. make her stop talking let her ramble.
Avoiding a word and having the other character say it always increases the power of that word. It keeps the reader waiting, and that delay adds to the excitement.
2. Uses retorts for boring dialogs
Nube Atlas, David Mitchell
"Good morning," the woman began.
"I beg to differ."
"My name is Gwendolin Bendincks."
"Don't blame me."
Nothing is more annoying than someone saying good morning or calling your name. How do you season it? With witty responses to every line. This takes advantage of the old comedic strategy of the straight man and the comedian, allowing the comedian to portray the straight man.
3. Speed up your dialogue
The Incredible Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon
"Did you tell him you're going to ask Helen to marry him?"
"But you are not."
"And she got mad."
"He ran to his room and closed the door. He actually hit me first.
"Good for you."
"The fool hit me."
A bad dialogue is usually a long dialogue. This works faster than an auctioneer - the reader is asked to fly down the page. It's quirky and funny, taking the violence to the background in a way that manages to be humorous.
4. Change the subject
The love story, Nicole Krauss
"Tell me about dad," she whispered.
"You forgot to cut your toenails," I told him.
Don't make it easy for your characters. If one person wants information from the other, just change the subject.
Just make sure there is an emotional reason for it. Here it is difficult for this character to talk about his father, that is to sayBecauseshe changes the subject.
5. Use punctuation to speed up your dialogue
Pachinoko, Min Jin Lee
“But you said – that you wanted to go. I thought you would marry someone back home."
“But you know this: that I took care of it. I will do that -"
"If you said it was possible -"
These characters talk about something difficult to admit: the love they feel for each other.
Then her speech falters, uncertain. You can use an ellipsis for this, or here Min Jin Lee uses hyphens.
Just make sure you don't throw Emily Dickinson at us with these scripts: less tends to be more.
6. Lies and drawing attention to them
Marilynne Robinson, casa
"I'm sorry if I kept you awake last night. I was restless. I had to take a walk."
"No, I fell asleep right away," she said, which wasn't true.
"I tried to be quiet."
"I did not hear anything." That was not true either. She heard him come through the door just after three.
The question is how to tell the reader that the character is lying. Here, Robinson uses narrator Glory's thoughts to contrast the spoken dialogue.
7. Be evasive
Seasonal Elf, Emily St. John Mandel
"How do you become an entertainment journalist?"
"Is this one of those postmodern things?" Jeevan asked. “Where do they watch the game and get interviewed like those celebrities who take pictures for the paparazzi?” […]
"I don't know," said Arthur, "I'm just curious. How did you get this job?"
"Little by little and then suddenly."
"No, really," he snapped, "I've always wondered what makes you guys tick."
"Money in general."
Here we have the celebrity trying to interview the interviewer and the interviewer refusing to answer any questions.
Here's a strategy for writing dialogue: Never give the questioner what he wants. With each question he asks, he avoids the question in a new way:
- Answer a question with another question (postmodern stuff?)
- Vague, unresponsive (gradually, then suddenly).
- Uninteresting answer that is impregnable (money)
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8. Use the Dialog Mapping for Rhythm
Oleandro Branco, Janet Fitch
They better not see you talking to me. Will burn a cross on my lawn."
"You don't have grass," I told him.
She smiled but didn't look at me again.
"My name is Astrid," I told her.
"Come in now," she said. "Astrid."
Usually one character telling someone their name is pretty boring, followed by the other character saying their name. Here, the placement of "she said" creates a pause and emphasizes the gentle acknowledgment of meeting someone new. It is the perfect moment.
9. Repeat the exact phrase between characters
Ben Fountain, The Long Walk of Billy Lynn
Speaking of military service:
Hector nods. "That's my point. What I've found here stinks, so I better participate."
"What else is there?" Mango says.
"What else is there?" Hector agrees.
"What else is there?" Billy repeats, but he's thinking of home.
You often see the exact same words repeated between two characters, but almost never between three characters.
What makes this work stand out is that, in his mind, Billy disagrees, even though he verbally agrees with the others. This is a variation when we get to the third repetition.
10. Direct dialogue
Brothers of Sisters, Patrick DeWitt
"Where's your mother?" Charlie asked.
"I'm sorry to hear that."
"Thank you. But she was always dead."
"Tell us about your girl," I said.
“Her name is Anna and her hair is the color of honey. It's the cleanest hair I've ever seen, it goes halfway to the floor. I love her."
"Are your feelings reciprocated?"
"I don't know what that word means."
"She loves You too?"
The form of the sentence has a big impact on how the dialogue sounds. Most of them are SVO: subject, verb, object. Simple and direct.
These dialogues are also cut to the bone. This is told during the frontier days of American westerns, and the prose has a tightness to it that gives it an old-fashioned feel without making it inaccessible to modern readers.
11. Die Pointe
Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Native American
"I used to think the world was torn apart by tribes," I said. "By blacks and whites. By Indians and whites. But I know that's not true. The world is divided into two tribes: people who are idiots and people who aren't."
This dialogue has the classic underpinnings of a joke. There's the setup, the in-between investment ("I know that's not true"), and the joke payout.
12. Boasting selfishness
Tobias Wolff, old school
Ayn Rand, one of the speakers here, is the author of Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead.
"If you had to name the best single work by an American author, what would it be?"
"Your own novel".
"There is another?"(Video) The Fox and the Crow Bedtime Stories for Kids in English
"Is there really no other American writer whose work you admire?"
Dialogue can be a great place to reveal what a character believes about themselves. In this case, Ayn Rand seems to have a pretty high view of herself and enough confidence to live a thousand lives.
Der Stieglitz, Donna Tartt
You are talking about someone pawning a famous painting "El Jilguero":
"Yes, but Sascha thinks he used the photo to pay off a debt."
"So does that guy have ties?"
"I can not believe."
"And the ties?"
"No, because of the debt. Looks like this guy stole hubcaps off the street six months ago.
Most writers who write dialogue don't use as many equivocations as conventional writers. ties? Debts? Which is it?
Misunderstandings happen much more often in real life than in fiction, so add more to your fiction.
14. Dialogue of translators
Belcanto, Ann Patchett
"Do you know what's wrong with him? Is he diabetic? Touch him, he's cold!"
"Tell me what he said," Fyodorov whispered between his knees.
"She wants to know what's going on with you," Gen said.
"Tell him it's love," he said.
Throughout this book they speak French, Spanish, Russian, English and a translator translates between all these characters. It's wonderful that nobody understands each other and never talks, but always with the translator.
15. Driving the dialogue backwards
Jonathan Franzen, "The Corrections"
"Dad, Grandma is on the phone!"
Gary crossed the yard...
Thanks Aaron, first time hearing from you.
"Grandma is on the phone!"
"I know this Aaron. You just told me."
"She called this morning," Caroline said. "I forgot to tell you. The phone was ringing every five minutes and she was finally running..."
"Thank you Caroline."
"Thank you so much."
Gary says "thank you" three times in this scene, and each time we know more and more that he didn't mean it. "Thank you" is what he says to her when he's desperately trying to control his temper, and I can hear the harshness in his voice.
- sometimes "thank you" is condescending
- sometimes "thank you" is annoying
- sometimes "thank you" is impatient
16. Unique Vocals: Archdialog
Monsters That Work, William Giraldi
“Hold on,” I said, “and trust me, Charles Homar. Others did and weren't too disappointed."
"I would rather not die, thank you."
"It's no coincidence. I'm neither fake nor blatant, just a commoner doing my duty. Look into my eyes, miss. What do you see? Correct: I was a Knight Templar a few lifetimes ago. Let's go to earth."
"Why are you talking this way?"
"In that crazy way."
„you don't understand girl.“
"Oh, God," she said. "Are we really going to do this?"
And I said, "Really."
When you have a character that spawns archaic language and weird expressions, you're doing a lot of character building.
What a funny jerk this man is, much more confident than the other characters give him credit for.
Hanya Yanagihara, The Tree People
"As a doctor," Tallent said, "what do you want most? You want to cure disease, you want to eradicate disease, you want to prolong life... But what I want is, and this is going to sound childish, but it's for That's what we are here for, after all, and even many of my colleagues worry about when they are too old to admit it: it means meeting another society, another people, unknown to civilization and, should I say, unknown to civilization. .. "I know what it's like to be studied," he said, "I know what it's like to be reduced to one thing, a set of behaviors and beliefs, for someone to see the exotic, the ritual, the in all my mundane acts... ."
Dialogue is a great place to find true motivations. Tallent is exceptionally vulnerable here, admitting that he has no honorable medical intentions, while being more anthropologically curious. But he feels bad studying these people, like he's objectifying them. He reveals himself, he doubts himself, he fights with himself, and out loud!
18. Socratic dialogue
Cormac McCarthy, Blutmeridian
One of the men was shot in the lower chest and was leaning against the office wall. Irving walked in and looked at him.
What did you do for him? he said.
I did nothing.
what should i do for him
I didn't ask you not to do anything.
That's good, said Irving. Because there is nothing to do.
If Irving had told the other speaker that there was nothing to do, the other speaker might not have agreed.
But it starts with a series of questions, as if slowly leading the other speaker to realize that nothing can be done.
19. Brief dialogue
Mil acres, Jane Smiley
A man and a woman think about starting an affair:
He said, "Is it okay?"
I shook my head.
"I'm really not used to this."
He backed away from me, the serious expression on his face, suddenly wary.
"Yes, I did. Please." It was humiliating to ask, but it's also okay. Kind of comforting. He smiled. That was the reward.
Then after, I suddenly started shaking.
He stepped away and I buttoned up three buttons on my shirt. He said, "Are you cold? It's only ninety degrees outside.
But it wasn't me, not anymore.
Look how much is not talked about here. See the complex emotions and hesitations that Smiley encapsulates in so few words. Most lines consist of only one to five words.
They wonder if they should have an affair, if they should continue with the sex. She wonders if she's nervous. Eventually, however, they move towards physical intimacy.
20. Switch between direct and indirect dialogue
Amy Hempel, In the cemetery where Al Jolson is buried
"Tell me things I like to forget," he said. "Do useless things or jump."
I started. I told him that bugs fly in the rain, they shed every drop and never get wet. I told him that no one in America had a tape recorder before Bing Crosby. I told him that the shape of the moon is like a banana: you see it full, you see it at the end.
One of the best techniques of the novelist isavoidthey all have direct dialogue. Here we have a direct line of dialogue between quotes to start the story. And then we summarize the dialogue (indirect dialogue). Hempel tells us the gist of what the character said, but not the exact words.
Indirect dialogue allows you to:
- Compress information into an organized format.
- Don't give up an authentic voice
21. Use humor
The Conspiracy Against America, Philip Roth
"You were in a bris, weren't you?" she asked him. "You know when they circumcise the baby in the Bris, you know what they do, don't you?"
"They cut the foreskin," I told him.
"And what do you do with the foreskin? After it's gone, do you know what they do?"
"No," I told him.
"Well," said Uncle Monty, "they save them, and when they have enough, they turn them over to the FBI to make agents."
The nephew gives the most basic and expected responses, basically meant only for the uncle to deliver his humorous line at the end.
22. Distinguish between speakers
John Irving, "A Prayer for Owen Meany"
"My God, Owen!" my grandmother said. "You were in aof the!”
"I just fell off," he said.
"Don't lie to me, Owen Meany!" Grandma said.
"I was attacked by TEENAGE BEADS IN HAMPTON BEACH," Owen said.
"Do not lie to me!" repeated the grandmother.
Throughout the book, Owen Meany's dialogue is always capitalized to remind the reader of his high-pitched voice, which is discussed in detail earlier in the book. Just remember that for your own dialogue, it's a great idea to render a character's dialogue differently: different punctuation, different spelling, different capitalization, different syntax.
23. Master the art of the innuendo
Son of Jesus, Denis Johnson
I took out my roommate account. "Don't mess with my mustache," she said.
"Good so far?"
"I'll do it on the other side."(Video) Make Your Sentences POWERFUL
"That would make sense, mate."
"When you got shot so straight in the face, did the bullet do anything interesting?"
"How was I supposed to know? I didn't take any notes. Even if it continues like this, you still feel like you've been shot in the head."
Not all dialogue needs big conflicts. This is a small skirmish. He hints that he is not good enough to shave his mustache. It suggests that everything is fine, but only so far. It implies that he doesn't know what he is doing on the other side. Hints that maybe the bullet had something interesting to do next (like going through his face was too boring to talk about).
24. Write the unsaid
Kazuo Ishiguro, "The Leftovers of the Day"
"I have thought a lot, Stevens. I have thought a lot. And I have come to my conclusion. We cannot have Jews on staff here at Darlington Hall.
"It is for the good of this house, Stevens. We stay here in the interests of our guests. I have considered this carefully, Stevens, and share my conclusion with you.
"Very well sir".
"Tell me Stevens, we have some on staff now, don't we? Jews, I mean.
"I believe two of the officials present fall into that category, sir."
His ladyship paused for a moment and looked out the window.
"Of course you have to let her go."
"Excuse me, sir?"
"It's a shame, Stevens, but we have no choice. This is about the safety and well-being of my guests. Let me assure you that I have looked into this matter and thought it through carefully. It is in everyone's interest." of us."
Stevens, the butler, clearly does not tolerate his British master's anti-Semitism. But he doesn't show it through dialogue or even thoughts.
Only the brevity of his dialogue and the form of his lines as questions indicate to the reader that he deeply disapproves.
25. Slightly misspelled dialect
Edward P. Jones, The Known World
"I don't know if there won't be a funeral, Marse," Stennis said of the Bountiful boy, "take your chains off and put them on. Watch them so they don't slip away. Too much trouble for something that won't." cause more trouble in this world."
Most of the advice you see on writing dialects warns the reader against misspelling. Because when you start spelling words phonetically, your entire writing falls sharply into the abyss of illegibility.
But here we see Edward P. Jones with very subtle and obvious misspellings. He leaves out a single letter (usually g) at the end of words, he leaves out an "a", and he leaves out the "th", which is common enough for everyone to understand. Finally, he uses the common "lotta".
There is no problem with the intelligibility of this dialect, but Jones takes his cake and eats it too; we can really hear the rhythm and class of the speaker. So when you do a dialect, watch out for misspellings, but when you do, do them like Jones.
26. Develop a character's personality
Robert Ward, Shedding
"Hey, that's great, Grandma," Phantom says, motioning for me to step into the circle with him. "Tell you what. You might as well have a contest. Sure. I've got a special one for you. A sweater contest. They bring all the grannies out on the porch one night when you're dying for a cold one." and see who can wear the most sweaters. I have an aunt who can wear fourteen.
Those one-liners, the snappy, off-the-cuff language, plus the weird idea of a granny-sweater contest. This character is a real character. Even the cadences of his language begin to draw him into the reader's mind.
27. Counterthoughts with dialogue
Walter Mosley, the devil in the blue dress
"Come here easy. I want you to meet this person.
I could feel those clear eyes on me.
“This is an old friend's mine, Easy. Mister. Albright.
"You can call me DeWitt, Easy," said the white man. His grip was strong but slippery, like a snake coiled around my hand.
"Hello," I said.
"Yes, Easy," Joppy continued, leaning in and smiling. "Mr. Albright and I know each other. You know he's probably my oldest friend in Los Angeles. Yes, we know each other.
"That's right," Albright smiled. “It must have been in 1935 when I met Jop. What happens now? He must be thirteen. This was before the war, before all the farmers and his brother's wife wanted to come to Los Angeles."
Joppy laughed at the joke; He smiled politely. I was wondering what Joppy had to do with this man, and I was also wondering what this man could have to do with me.
"Where are you from, Easy?" asked Mr. Albright.
Characters rarely say what's on their mind. Here we have Easy Rawlings, the detective hero of the story, who thinks DeWitt is a snake, but what does he say?
He says "Hello" very politely and not much else for the rest of the scene. He only speaks two words in this entire conversation (which is a great characterization: he is a man of few words).
We also know that Easy is suspicious of DeWitt for keeping calling him "Mr. Albright" in his head or "this man": he doesn't want to use their first names with this man.
28. Character that wanders endlessly
Alice Munro, Open Secrets
The first thing he reported when he returned was the male situation.
"Disgusting. They all marry young, they are Catholic and women never die, they are too busy having children."
“Oh, they hired someone for me, but I saw right away that they would never give up. He was one of those mothers."
"I hit one, but he made a terrible mistake. He didn't cut his toenails. Big yellow toenails. So? Aren't you going to ask me how I found out?"
All three lines are from the same character. Instead of paragraph breaks to signal that a new character is speaking, Alice Munro uses them to signal the passage of time. This woman babbled all night and we spent an entire night on just three lines of dialogue. It's a beautiful characterization: this woman is talkative.
29. Brevity is power
Gabriel García Márquez, Love in the Time of Cholera
"And how long do you think we can keep this damn going back and forth?" she asked her.
Florentino Ariza had prepared his answer for fifty-three years, seven months and eleven days and nights.
"Forever," he said.
It's surprising how often I see young writers trying to cover all their dialogue bases, but when I read published books, they dialogue less and do more.
A single word: a single word can wield so much power. His power is multiplied because he is alone.
I love how this book ends with the word "Forever" and it says a lot about their love. He may have been separated from the love of her life for fifty-three years, but now that he's with her, he wants time to stop forever.
30. Highlight the unsaid
Jesmyn Ward, sing, unearthed, sing
Jojo is talking to his grandfather (Pop) in this scene.
"It might rain outside."
I shook my head.
"Do you remember how to change a tire? Check the oil and coolant?
I shook my head again. Pop taught me all this when he was ten years old.
I wanted to tell Dad that I didn't want to go, that I wanted Kayla and me to stay home, and I might have if he hadn't looked so angry, if his frown hadn't cut across his mouth and forehead. If Leonie hadn't gone out with Kayla, that she would rub her eyes and cry because she had woken up with the gray light. It was 7 am so I said what I could.
His brow then softened for a moment, long enough to say:
"Take care of her."
The unsaid in this scene is much greater than the said.
Ward writes closed characters, so he keeps his dialogue short but used.Thoughtsinstead, to get to the bottom of his character's emotions. Jojo wants to say something to his father, but he can't, so he said what he could.
It's very true to life: what we say is almost never what we really mean.
Both characters are restricted by gender and property rules.
31. Use dialogue to create villains.
Sherman Alexie, Indian Education
Betty Towle, a missionary teacher, redheaded, and so ugly no one had ever fallen in love with her, kept me on hiatus for a fortnight.
"Tell me you're sorry," she said.
"Sorry why?" I asked.
"Everything," he said, and made me stand for fifteen minutes, eagles armed with books in each hand.
The "everything" line is cruel and excessive. Dialogues like this embarrass the narrator and turn the teacher into a villain.
32. Use the dialog to indicate off-page actions
Peter Carey, the Inspector of Revenue
He touched her forehead between her eyes and ran a finger along the line of her nose. "I will love you 100 percent for sure."
She never thought you could say those words and still feel tenderness, but now she was lying on her side and he was next to her and he had those pale blue eyes and those cute wrinkles around his eyes.
"Is there 100 percent?" she asked.
"Are you sure?"
"Does this seem safe?"
"Don't worry. I'll keep my word. Is this safe?"
What physical things happen between this couple? The book doesn't say that. We just have to imagine the dialogue.
This is very suggestive dialogue that hints at what maneuvers may be going on but never reveals.
Imagination can be stronger than spelling out specific actions.
33. Use repetition for critical dialogue
Oyinkan Braithwaite, "My sister, the serial killer"
"Maybe your wife still loves you."
he sighs. "You can't take back words after you've said them."
"I'm divorcing you. I'm done with you. I'm divorcing you."
Braithwaite could have written this as a simple "I divorce you." Try reading the passage out loud with just one. Gives a completely different feeling, doesn't it?
But the fact that they are pronounced three times makes them shine:
- quite irreversible
- spoken in anger
- probably spoken during a fight
34. Opposition dialogue
Caryl Churchill, "The Best Girls"
"Then tell me a bit more about what you did."
"What I did. It's all downstairs."
"The simple facts are below, but I need to introduce you to an employer."
"I am twenty-nine years old".
"That's what it says here."
"We look young. Youth runs in our family."
"Just describe your current job to me."
"My current job. I have a car. I have a Porsche. I drive the M1 a lot. I burn the M1 a lot. Straight down the M1 in the fast lane to customers, Staffordshire, Yorkshire, I do a lot in Yorkshire. See electrical stuff, like dishwasher , washing machines, stainless steel tanks are a characteristic and the reliability of the program.”
Each line here opposes the other line, sometimes subtly, but it's always there. The interviewee is the main example of lack of professionalism. He says it's on the app. She says that her current job is to set fire to the street in her Porsche. And the interviewer is capricious, critical, assertive, and unimpressed.
Alice McDermott, charming Billy
"Look at this little guy," Billy said again. "She looks like a buoy."
Dennis shook his head seriously. "No, she's a girl."
"But it looks like a float," Billy said again. "A buoy, a buoy." He pointed across the bay to the black buoys that dotted the horizon, until the children understood what he meant and started yelling, "One buoy, one boo, that one."
But Dennis kept shaking his head. "How can it be a boy with all that hair on his head? You're a girl, aren't you?"
buoy/boy. What I love is that even after correcting the pronunciation, Dennis still misinterprets it, but jokingly, not seriously.
36. Repeat a word to determine the identity of the speaker
Jonathan Ames, wake up sir
Jeeves went from his bedroom to his office. "Yes, really?"
"Have you ever had an outer body experience?
"Are you referring, sir, to an out-of-body experience?"
"Yeah, you're right. Jeeves… I must have confused out of body with outskirts. Did you have one anyway?"
"A what, sir?"
"What do you think? An out of body experience! Taken out of our bodies and taken to another place." […]
"I'm sorry, sir, but I haven't had an out-of-body experience."
"Really? I'm surprised. Would you like one, Jeeves? I'd get you one if I could."
"No sir, I don't want one."
How many dialogue tags are in this passage? Review again. The answer is zero.
Ames manages to avoid all dialogue marks because he has a character (the imaginary butler Jeeves) who uses the word "sir" in every line. This way, the reader is always reminded who is speaking.
These types of dialog identity markers are great for:
- Give your characters a unique voice
- You can omit dialog tags (adjust prose)
37. Historical dialogue
Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall
"Just wait," advises Kat. "You don't want any Thomas pieces on your London jacket."
That's all it does. He goes away. "I wouldn't mind, but look at you boy. You could cripple the brute in a fair fight.
"It's never a fair fight," says Kat. She's coming after you, isn't she, Thomas? With something in hand.
"It looks like a glass bottle in this case," says Morgan Williams. "Was it a bottle?"
he denies with the head. Your nose is bleeding again.
"Don't do that, bro," says Kat. Everything is in her hand; she cleans the clots herself. What a mess, on your apron; she might as well have stuck her head in there.
"I take it you didn't see it?" morgan says. "What exactly did he swing?"
The tendency when writing dialogues from historical themes is to modernize them. To remove anachronisms and Old English spellings (of course) and occasionally spice it up with a phrase that reveals the time period. Essentially, modern writers are more concerned with flow than time period accuracy when writing historical dialogue.
Take a look at the quote above: Nothing here would be out of place if it were being talked about today, although a word like "raw" seems a bit dated.
38. One-sided dialogue
Breathing, Eyes, Memory by Edwidge Danticat
The mother greets the son when he gets off the plane:
"I can't believe I'm looking at you," he said. "You are my little girl. You are here."
He pinched my cheeks and stroked my head.
"Say something," she challenged. "Say something. Just talk to me. Let me hear your voice."
He pressed my face against his and held on tight.
"How do you feel?" She asked. "Did you have a good flight?"
I shook my head.
"You must be very tired," he said. "We're going home."
He grabbed my suitcase with one hand and my arm with the other. Outside it was cloudy and cold.
"My God." Her slim body trembled. He didn't even bring you anything to wear over the dress.
The daughter never speaks in this scene.
I love that the mother excuses her silence with boredom, although the reader hopes it is out of shyness.
Technique wise, note that there is a description between each line of dialogue to give the reader a break from the mother dialogue. You need a description because the other speaker doesn't say anything.
39. Compare the upper class with the lower class
Paul Beatty, The Sold Out
Supposedly said by a black Supreme Court justice (no names):
"Segregation? Slavery? Boy, you son of a bitch! I know full well your parents raised you better! So let's get this hanging party started!"
What makes this dialogue soar is the contrast between the dignified office (Supreme Court Justice) and the low-key, earthy curses of the dialogue.
It's shocking to see the rudeness, but it might be a good idea to have a character that doesn't fit what the reader would expect. For example, you can show a worker with a very high language level.
40. Confession in dialogue
The sons of men, P.S. James
"There is no comfort. I killed her."
Miriam's voice was strained, unnaturally high, almost like a scream in her ear. "You didn't kill her! If she was dying of shock, it would have happened when you first showed her the gun. You don't know why she died. It was natural causes, it must have been. It could have happened anyway. She did it. "He was old and had a weak heart. You told us it wasn't your fault Theo, you didn't mean it."
He said: "The worst thing is that I liked it. I really liked it!"
Miriam unloaded the cart and threw the blankets over her shoulders. "Did you like to tie up that old man and his wife? Of course not. You did what you had to do.
"It's not the binding. I didn't mean to. But I enjoyed the thrill, the power, the knowledge that I could do this. It wasn't all terrible. It was for her, but not for me."
These two characters go in opposite directions. Miriam tries to convinceshe herselfthat they are not guilty, and we suspect that she does not believe what she says.
And the other character discovers a dark part of himself that he didn't know existed and he admits it because he's so embarrassed.
Having one character sheet for both characters in a dialogue scene is a wonderful move. Little by little, Miriam becomes convinced that they are not to blame and he confronts his own dark desires.
Dialogue is a place where characters can be most vulnerable, where they can bring out the worst in themselves. And here a good character struggles with unexpected pleasure: he felt joy when he exerted power over others.
Bright lights, big city, Jay McInerney
Warning: this is from a second person point of view.
"Have you ever noticed that all good words start with D? D and L."
You try to think about it. You're not sure what it means. The Bolivians sing their march, but the lyrics are not understood.
"You know. Drugs. Joy. Decay."
"Debauchery," you say, understanding the song now.
"Precious. Crazy. Weakened."
"And L," she says. "Lush and lush."
"What's that?" She says.
I know everyone scolds the dialogue.Alwaysmust (always!) contain conflicts. But every once in a while a dialogue can show a collaboration, two characters attacking each other and sharing a human connection.
Here we have two characters flirting as a play on words. And it is an appropriate characterization for recreational drug users to believe that "disturbed," "deficient," and "delinquent" are positive attributes.
42. Indirect dialogue
Jane Smiley, mil acres
He kept talking. Feeling a little embarrassed, Harold made Loren a casserole of macaroni and tuna and mushroom soup for dinner. Jess had promised to put it in the oven at half past four; What time was it now? The farmer near Sac City had called him, four hundred and seventy acres of corn and beans, just green manure and manure for manure, the guy's name was Morgan Boone, sounds familiar, sounds familiar? He said that Jess could come anytime.
The good thing about this indirect dialogue is that although it is a summary of the dialogue, not the dialogue itself, it retains the colloquial repetitions and rhythms of the actual dialogue, they are not your exact words, but a summary of your words.
When would you like to use indirect dialogue? When you want to make sense of a long dialogue, but the reader gets bored trying to reproduce it accurately.
43. Adapt the dialogue to your environment
Cormac McCarthy, The Street
do you know where we are dad
So. I think we are about two hundred miles from the coast. How the raven flies.
How does the crow fly?(Video) The Boy Who Cried Wolf Story (Short Story for KIDS) | KIDS HUT Animated Stories
Yes. I mean walk straight.
We will arrive soon?
Not very soon. Much soon. We do not fly as the raven flies.
Why don't crows need to follow the paths?
They can go wherever they want.
Do you think there might be crows somewhere?
I do not know.
But what do you think?
I think it is unlikely.
This is an apocalyptic wasteland where everything has been destroyed and the land is scorched and barren. So McCarthy decides that his dialogue should reflect the state of the world.
- Avoid punctuation marks.
- Choose short and cheap lines and emphasize scarcity.
- It keeps things simple because they fight for the simplest of needs.
44. Display a multiple record
Corrections, Jonathan Franzen
Aaron ran out of the kitchen. "Father!"
"I'm on the phone, Aaron."
"I'm on the phone, Aaron, as you can see."
"Dave has a colostomy," Enid said.
"You have to do something now," Aaron said. “Mom it hurts a lot. She says that we have to take her to the hospital.
"Actually, Dad," Caleb said, pushing with his catalog, "there's a place you can take me too."
"No, but is there a store I really should go to?"
"Accessible seats sell out early," Enid said.
"Aaron?" Caroline called from the kitchen.
"It's definitely loud in here for someone trying to focus," Jonah said.
"Mom, I'm sorry," Gary said, "I'm going somewhere quieter."
Quick Dialogue Lesson:
- So a dialogue is only for two people.
- A trialog is for three.
- A multilog attempts to drive a large number of speakers in a single scene.
There are 8 (eight!) characters in this short excerpt: Dad, Grandma on the phone, Aaron, Enid, Caleb, Caroline the wife, Jonah, Gary.
So, inevitably, there are a lot of dialog tags. But you really feel the hectic energy of the house that is overflowing with interruptions and many different conversations. It's a lot of stress.
45. How to Write a Drunken Dialogue
What we talk about when we talk about love, Raymond Carver
"Terri said that the man she lived with before she moved in with Mel loved her so much that he tried to kill her. Then Terri said, 'He hit me one night. She dragged my ankles across the room. She kept saying, 'I love you, I love you, bitch. What do you do with a love like that?
"Oh my gosh, don't be silly. This isn't love and you know it," Mel said. "I don't know what you would call it, but I'm sure you wouldn't call it love."
"Say what you want, but I know it was," Terri said. "It may sound crazy to you, but it's just as true. People are different, Mel. Sure, he might have acted crazy at times. That's okay. But he loved me. In his own way, maybe, but he loved me. It was love Mel Don't say there wasn't.
Mel sighed. He raised his glass and turned to Laura and me. "The man threatened to kill me," Mel said. He drained his glass and reached for the gin bottle. Terri is a romantic. Terri is from school kick me so I know you love me. Terri, honey, don't be like that. Mel leaned across the table and touched her fingers to Terri's cheek. He smiled at her.
"Now he wants to make amends," Terri said.
“Invent what?” Mel said. “What needs to be updated? I know what I know, that's all."
“How did we get to this topic?” Terri said. She raised her glass and drank. "Mel always has love on her mind," she said. "Isn't that so, dear?" She smiled, and I thought that was the last thing.
"I just wouldn't call Ed's behavior love. That's all I'm saying, honey," Mel said. Mel said to Laura and me, "Does that sound like love to you?"
"I'm the wrong person to talk to," I told him. "I didn't even know the man. I only heard his name in passing from him. I wouldn't know. You should know the details. But I think you're saying that love is absolute."
Mel said, "The kind of love I'm talking about is. The kind of love I'm talking about, you're not trying to kill people."
Wild admissions. Colloquial joke. careless phrase. This is gin-based dialogue, and a lot of it.
Please don't slander if you write a drunk dialogue, it's a cliché. Side with Carver and release your inhibitions.
46. Dialogue as climax
Madison County Bridges, Robert James Waller
Then they hugged for a long time. And he whispered to her: "I have one thing to say, just one thing, I will never tell anyone again, and I ask you to remember this. In a universe of ambiguity, that kind of certainty comes only once and never again." again, no matter how many lives you live."
You must love the warm up here. It's six clauses (six!) before he finally gets to the point: that certainty that his love will never come back. There is nothing more romantic than this line.
what's my point My point is that dialogue often serves as the climax in a book. This declaration of love was the most memorable and moving part of the entire book. That's how powerful dialogue is.
47. Mistake and lies
George Saunders, "In the Nation of Persuasion"
There is an orange and a Slap of Wack bar on a counter.
"I have vitamin C," says the orange.
"Me too," says the idiot bar.
"I have natural fiber," says the orange.
"Me too," says the slap bar.
"They do?" says the orange.
"Are you calling me a liar?" the hit on the bar says crazy?
"Oh no," says the orange politely. Did I just get the impression I read the label on it? Which are mostly made from artificial colors, an innovative edible plastic product, and high fructose corn syrup. So I'm not sure where the fiber comes from."
"Slap your dick!" she yells out the slap bar, navigating the counter with a pointed tip poking the orange.
"Oh God," says the orange, tormented.
"You have a bad cut," says the bar slap. "Do I have a nasty laceration? I don't think so. My packing is intact, weak."
So I don't care if this extract contains fruits and... a fruit-like substance, it can still teach us about dialogue.
I think this style of dialogue is particularly masculine. Men always try to outdo each other in their casual banter. And here we have two competing "characters". The fact that it's outrageous and hilarious doesn't hurt. It's a wicked satire on our industrial food machine.
Really, this is an example of a character repeatedly lying, and lying is wonderful for dialogue, especially when the other characters point it out to them.
48. Avoid talking about what you are talking about
Ernest Hemingway, Hills like white elephants
"The beer is nice and cold," said the man.
"It's beautiful," said the girl.
"It's really a very simple operation, Jig," said the man. "It's not an operation."
The girl looked at the floor where the table legs rested.
"I know you wouldn't mind, Jig. It's nothing. Just let the air in."
The girl said nothing.
“I will go with you and I will stay with you at all times. They just let the air in and then everything is natural.”
"So what do we do now?"
"We'll be fine after this. Just like we were before.
"What makes you think so?"
"It's the only thing that bothers us. That's the only thing that made us unhappy."
This whole story is about whether or not you can have an abortion. Guess what word they never say?
If you said "abortion", here it is for you. Dialogue is very powerful when it revolves around a topic without directly addressing it, probably because that's how dialogue often works in real life.
49. Desires of a conflicting nature
Mary Gaitskill, "That's Pleasure"
"It doesn't look like this girl is having a legal affair, but I can honestly understand why she's upset. You didn't touch her, did you? I mean sexually."
I did not have. Only sometimes on the shoulder or at the waist. Maybe in the knee or hip. Keen. Not sex. "I really don't want Carolina to know," I told her. “She hates male oppression. she hates ".
I'm Margot Riu.smiled."Did you really just say that?" she said. "Of?”
I said, "I'm worried about my wife."
She stopped laughing. She said: "If it wasn't sexual, then you don't have to worry."
"But it may sound sexual. Or just, she claims it cost her months in therapy bills."
Margot laughed again, more cruelly, I'm not sure who.
"I want you to keep quiet about this," I told him. "I mean, don't tell anyone. Not even Todd."
"I won't," she said. "Don't worry."
You should always know what your characters want in a scene and make sure that what they want is at odds with what the other character wants.
The man in this scene wants to keep this sexual harassment case a secret. Above all, Margot is curious. She is amused by all this dialogue and wonders if she will keep her promise not to talk at the end. His embarrassment and her curiosity are at odds.
Elena Ferrante, Those who leave and those who stay
Michele describes Lila's genius:
“You see, she really has a bad temper. I speak but she doesn't care, she takes a piece of paper, says she wants to go. But you forgive her because she has many good qualities that make up for her bad character. Do you think you hired a worker? Is not true. This woman is much, much more. If you let her turn shit into gold for you, she's capable of reorganizing this entire company and taking it to a level you can't even imagine. Because? Because she has the kind of mind that normally no woman has, but not even us men. I've been following her since she was a child and it's true. She designed shoes that she still sells in Naples and abroad, and earns a lot of money. And she renovated a shop in Piazza dei Martiri with such imagination that it became a salon for the rich in Via Chiaia, in Posillipo, in Vomero. And there are many, many other things she could do. But she has a crazy side, she thinks that she can always do whatever she wants. Come, go, fix, break. Do you think I fired her? No, one day, like nothing happened, she didn't come to work. Simple as that, she was. And if you catch her again, she runs away again, she is an eel. That's her problem with her: even though she's extremely intelligent, she can't understand what she can and can't do. That's because she still hasn't found a real man. A real man puts a woman in her place. You do not know how to cook? She learns. The house is dirty? She cleans it up. A real man can make a woman do anything. For example: I recently met a woman who couldn't whistle. Well, we were only together for two hours - fire hours - and after that I told her: Now she whistles. She-you won't believe it-she hissed. If you know how to train a woman, fine. If you don't know how to train them, forget about them, you'll get hurt."
Read this out loud. The speech rhythms are brilliant, which is due not only to the brilliance of Elena Ferrante, but also to the brilliance of her translator (Ann Goldstein).
Each sentence has a different shape, a different length, a different pattern. This is a master class in sentence variation. It really feels like someone is talking: Elena captured the happy, galloping patterns of passionate speech.
- Colloquial openings (you'll see)
- Eat seams (she goes, she is)
- Begins with conjunctions (And, But)
- Fragmento, nur Verben (Come, Go, Fix, Break)
- Colon Sentences (That's your problem :)
- Very short sentences (she cleans).
Write Amazing Dialogue: 33 Tips to Bring Your Story to Life13 Strategies for Creating Character Names
For example: Josh mumbled, “Nobody understands the main problem here.” A dialogue can also appear at the end of the sentence. In this case, the quotation comes first. Once you punctuate the quote and close the quotation marks, place the dialogue tag.What are examples of bad dialogue in books? ›
“Did you remember to stop by my mother's house? She said she had something for us.” “No, I didn't remember to stop by your mother's house. I didn't remember that she said she had something for us.”What are the 10 rules of dialogue? ›
- Make sure your dialogue has a purpose.
- Balance your dialogue tag.
- Show don't tell.
- Avoid long monologues.
- Use a light hand with your accents.
- Keep your dialogue dynamic.
- Dialogue doesn't work alone – coordinate!
- Pay attention to punctuation.
The Four Types of Conversations: Debate, Dialogue, Discourse, and Diatribe. When talking with someone, it is helpful to know what type of conversation you are in. You can do so based on a conversation's direction of communication (a one-way or two-way street) and its tone/purpose (competitive or cooperative).What are the five types of dialogue? ›
- 1: Dialogue introducing key characters.
- 2: Dialogue showing important conflicts between characters.
- Dialogue for telling characters apart.
- 4: Dialogue for showing characters' inner conflicts.
- 5: Revelatory dialogue.
- Use quotation marks. ...
- Give speaker their own line or paragraph. ...
- Make it clear who is speaking. ...
- Vary speech tag use. ...
- Use dialogue with a purpose.
- Ask for information. A good way to start a conversation is to ask for information from the person you want to talk to. ...
- Pay a compliment. ...
- Comment on something pleasant. ...
- Introduce yourself. ...
- Offer help … or ask for help. ...
- Mention a shared experience. ...
- Ask an opinion. ...
- Show genuine interest.
- Do away with pleasantries. Cutting greetings and other small talk is a great place to start paring down your dialogue. ...
- Keep it short. Try to keep each instance of dialogue to one sentence. ...
- Slow down. ...
- Stick to simple speech tags. ...
- Dress your dialogue in action.
- Skip the greetings and small talk.
- Keep to three dialogue beats.
- Use action beats.
- Don't be afraid to use 'said'
- Add variety to your dialogue scenes.
- Avoid excessive exposition.
- Use catchphrases or quirks in moderation.
- Know that characters don't always mean what they say.
- Format your dialogue for clarity. ...
- Use dialogue tags sparingly. ...
- Stage your characters. ...
- Write dialogue with action. ...
- Create a unique voice for every character. ...
- Keep it real. ...
- Read dialogue out loud. ...
- Avoid introducing new characters during a conversation.
- Pride and Prejudice (Paperback) Jane Austen. ...
- Playing for Keeps (Neighbor from Hell, #1) ...
- Hamlet (Paperback) ...
- An Ideal Husband (Paperback) ...
- The Importance of Being Earnest (Paperback) ...
- The House of Mirth (Paperback) ...
- The Color of Magic (Discworld, #1; Rincewind, #1) ...
- Trouble Makes a Comeback (Trouble, #2)
- Only spoken words go within quotation marks. ...
- A different character speaking or responding with an action gets a new line or paragraph. ...
- Punctuation marks belong inside quotation marks.
It's no longer taboo to have swearing in most types of writing, though the frequency and the type (e.g. “hell” vs. an f-bomb) can vary greatly depending on the audience and the subject matter. When writers ask, “Can I include a swear word in my novel?” the answer, usually, is yes.What should be avoided in dialogue writing? ›
- Mistake #1: Exposition through dialogue. ...
- Mistake #2: Characters always telling each other exactly what they mean. ...
- Mistake #3: Using dialogue when summary can get the job done faster. ...
- Mistake #4: Dialogue from children is too cute. ...
- Mistake #5: ALL CAPS FOR EMOTION.
- Mistake 1: Stilted or Formal Speech. ...
- Mistake 2: Characters Sound the Same. ...
- Mistake 3: Including Small Talk. ...
- Mistake 4: Too Much Exposition. ...
- Mistake 5: Naming Names. ...
- Mistake 6: Fancy Dialogue Tags. ...
- Mistake 7: Missing Dialogue Tags. ...
- Mistake 8: Incorrect Dialogue Punctuation.
Plato and the Elements of Dialogue examines Plato's use of the three necessary elements of dialogue: character, time, and place.What are the best conversation starters? ›
- What's the most interesting thing you've read lately?
- What's a fact about you that's not on the internet?
- Do you listen to any podcasts? ...
- If you were in charge of the playlist, which song would you play next?
- What's the best gift you've ever gotten?
What are different kinds of dialogue? Inner dialogue is the dialogue a character has inside their own head. Often, it's referred to as an inner monologue. Outer dialogue is a conversation between two or more characters.What is the difference between a dialogue and a conversation? ›
Conversation is a joint activity in which two or more participants use linguistic forms and nonverbal signals to communicate interactively. Dialogues are conversations between two participants (although the terms dialogue and conversation are often used interchangeably).What is dialogue in creative writing? ›
Dialogue is the textual representation of spoken words and conversations within most works of creative writing, including novels, short stories, and scripts.
A dialogue is a conversation between two or more people.How do you break up dialogue in a story? ›
Indicate pauses by interrupting speech with dialogue tags
Sometimes, writers choose to interrupt a speaker's line with a dialogue tag before allowing them to continue. If the dialogue tag comes between sentences, cap it off with a period.
- Show a character through their voice.
- Advance the plot.
- Provide information about the time and place of the narration.
- Break the monologue of the narrator.
- Use the flashback to present memories.
Here's a quick example of first-person dialogue between a first-person narrator and someone else: “Hey, Dee,” I said. “Oh, hello!” said Dee.What are the earliest known examples of dialogue writing? ›
The oldest known dialogues are the Sicilian mimes, written in rhythmic prose by Sophron of Syracuse in the early 5th century bc.What are the 5 rules of writing dialogue? ›
- Don't use dialogue tags every time someone speaks. ...
- Alternate between dialogue tags, action tags, and no tags. ...
- Use “said” and “asked” for the smoothest reading experience. ...
- Use dialogue to build your story. ...
- Use correct punctuation.
- Two friends.
- Teacher and student.
- Doctor and patient.
- Dialogue writing in English between two friends.
- Teacher and student about exams.
- Shopkeeper and customer.
- Mother and son about vacations.
- Teacher and student about studies.
... six basic types of dialog previously recognized in the argumentation literature are persuasion dialog, inquiry, negotiation dialog, information-seeking dialog, deliberation, and eristic dialog.Can I start a sentence with dialogue? ›
Place dialogue tags at the beginning of a sentence.
When placing dialogue tags at the beginning of complete sentences, a comma should come after the dialogue tag. If the dialogue comes at the start of a new sentence, the first word of the sentence should have a capital letter.
Sure, you can put dialogue in the very first line of a work of fiction. Anton Chekhov's story "My Life" begins like this: The director told me: "I only keep you out of respect for your esteemed father, otherwise you would have been sent flying out of here long ago."How do you write dialogue in Grade 10? ›
- The students need to read the preceding and the following dialogues.
- They must understand the topic well and make points.
- The tenses should be accurate according to the dialogue.
- It should seem like a natural conversation.
- The words used should not be vague and should convey the message.