Thursday, October 05, 2006

Lesson 12: Dialogue Mechanics

Well, it seems like I've been so busy all week that I've lost track of days. This is Thursday...Yes, I'm sure of that, I just don't know how I got here!

I do know that Dark Hour by Ginger Garrett is sitting at #2 on Technorati's Popular Book List. And her first novel, Chosen is sitting at #7...The blog tour is a resounding success...Go CFBAers!!!

Today we are continuing editing lessons from the book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King.

These lessons will be shortened overviews of the chapters and by no means should be a substitute for buying the book. I'm rereading but not posting a lot of good stuff!

Let's continue. Today we'll start Dialogue Mechanics. I just recently learned that one of the first things an acquisitions editor looks for when they begin reading a fiction submission, is the dialogue!

If you're like most writers, you probably find that writing dialogue takes more thought than writing narration or action. And because it's such hard work, generations of writers have developed mechanical tricks to save them the trouble of writing dialogue that effectively conveys character and emotion...Techniques to prop up shaky dialogue, or to paper over holes and make second-rate dialogue serviceable without a lot of effort.

Once you learn to spot these creaky mechanics, all you have to do is stop using them. And once you stop, you may find that your dialogue...standing on its a lot stronger than you thought it was when you wrote it.

Imagine that your at a play. It's the middle of the first act: you're getting really involved in the drama they're acting out. Suddenly the playwright runs out on the stage and yells, "Do you see what's happening here? So you see how her coldness is behind his infidelity? Have you noticed the way his womanizing has undermined her confidence? Do you get it?"

You get it, of course, and you feel patronized. You're an intelligent theater-goer, and what's happening on the stage is clear enough. You don't need the writer to explain it to you.

This is exactly what happens when you explain your dialogue to your readers.

To be continued...

A joke..oldy but goody!

A fellow finds himself in front of the Pearly Gates. St. Peter explains that its not so easy to get in heaven. There are some criteria before entry is allowed.

For example, was the man religious in life? Attend church? No? St. Peter told him that's bad.

Was he generous? Give money to the poor? Charities? No? St. Peter told him that that too was bad.

Did he do any good deeds? Help his neighbor? Anything? No? St. Peter was becoming concerned.

Exasperated, Peter says, "Look, everybody does something nice sometime. Work with me, I'm trying to help. Now think!"

The man says, "There was this old lady. I came out of a store and found her surrounded by a dozen Hell's Angels. They had taken her purse and were shoving her around, taunting and abusing her.

I got so mad I threw my bags down, fought through the crowd, and got her purse back. I then helped her to her feet. I then went up to the biggest, baddest biker and told him how despicable, cowardly and mean he was and then spat in his face".

"Wow", said Peter, "That's impressive. When did this happen"?

"Oh, about 10 minutes ago", replied the man.


  1. Bernita said...
    Er...what mechanical tricks?
    Shelley L. MacKenzie said... that joke!
    Anonymous said...
    I likeadajoke too. Good stuff.

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