Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Dialogue: 7 Ways of Adding Variety

Dialogue: 7 Ways of Adding Variety
Photo by ajari, licensed through the creative commons

Dialogue is important. What would a novel be without dialogue? But dialogue needs to be interesting. Witty.

However, writers are mere mortals and inspiration does not come on tap. (If only!) Here are 7 tricks to help coax the muse out of hibernation.

Thanks go to Marcy Kennedy and her terrific blog post 7 Tricks to Add Variety to Your Dialogue. In deference to Marcy, I'll give her first three points and then let you visit her blog for the rest. Enjoy!

1. Answer a question with a question

"Dear, what did you think of Melinda's dress? I thought it looked stunning!"
"Don't you think dinner parties are an awful bore?"

Perhaps your character doesn't want to answer the question, or perhaps asking a question is a way of answering indirectly or being snide.

2. Put your characters in a jar and shake it: Interrupt 

Everyone has pet peeves, this is mine. I have a soft voice so I guess it's easy to do.

When one character cuts another off it sends the message that either the speaker is an impatient person, that they didn't think what the other person was saying is worth listening to, or both.

If one of your characters is a bit self-absorbed, this is a great way of showing that!

3. Silence
Have you ever asked someone a question and they don't reply? They just stand and look at you? Trust me, it's disconcerting.

Silence is the ultimate conversation stopper. There's nothing to rebut and you're given no clue as to what the other person is thinking or feeling. A door has slammed, cutting you off from one another.

Of course, this works both ways. Someone could fall silent hoping to provoke a reaction, but their silence might be appreciated! That would tell quite a bit about both characters.

To read the rest of Marcy's excellent article, click here: 7 Tricks to Add Variety to Your Dialogue.

The subversion of expectation

One thing I've noticed all 7 points have in common is the subversion of the reader's expectation.

"Subverting the readers expectations" sounds like a bad thing. 'Subversion' conjures up images of something dark and steamy, but it's really a good thing! It engages the reader and keeps them from getting bored.

For instance, when a person answers a question with a question they are doing something unexpected. People are supposed to answer questions when asked, not ignore them and ask their own!

Similarly, when one person interrupts another (grrrr!) they are doing something unexpected. That's good!

Other articles you might like:
- Amazon Ranks Authors In Terms Of Their Book Sales
- How to record an audiobook at home
- How To Build A Platform: Why Every Writer Needs A Website

Photo credit: ajari

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