Writing What People Say
In real life, I'm not a person who does much small talk and I'm kind of quiet, unless I'm leading a seminar. But I make a lot of noise on paper. In fact, my dialogue tends to run on and on. Many people have the opposite problem, they talk a lot, but find dialogue difficult to write. Whether people find it difficult or easy, their dialogue usually needs a lot of polishing.
Dialogue is the words that people say. There is no place for a he said, or she felt, just the words. Example:
You might clarify Elizabeth's emotions with a dialogue instruction if there is a compelling reason. For example, Elizabeth understands why her boyfriend, John, made her angry: he was having problems at home.ELIZABETH
Good stories with good dialogue will leave little doubt as to the meaning and will not need compassionately, but use enough dialogue instructions to make it clear.ELIZABETH
Dialogue should be as short, or crisp, as possible. The standard dialogue line is three inches long. Three of those lines is about as long as will play well. When it is longer, it needs to be focused, broken up, or polished.
Trying to say too many things at one time is a common problem. Make the line say just one thing, or respond to the previous line and say something new. Take the following poor dialogue for example:
I've been looking all over for you. WhereJOHN
Elizabeth responded to each of Johnís questions, but I doubt that even John could understand.I've been around - you know me, I'mELIZABETH
Compare to this:
Elizabeth staggers across the sidewalk and looks faint. John holds her steady.Where were you today?JOHN
Reinforcement Question:Yes, I will take you home.JOHN
1) Dialogue should:
a) Talk about next weeks date, hobbies, and what's new on TV.Next: Format
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