Why is it so important to write great dialogue?
- GREAT DIALOGUE ATTRACTS AGENTS AND PUBLISHERS. Even if other areas of your manuscript are still rough, great dialogue indicates that you've got what it takes to write a terrific book, and they're more apt to take a chance on you.
- GREAT DIALOGUE CAPTIVATES READERS. If a reader gets pulled in by your dialogue, chances are far better that she'll love your characters and want to follow them to the end of your story.
- GREAT DIALOGUE MEANS GREAT STORY. Powerful dialogue isn't just about characters talking to each other, it's also about story! (And character, and theme, and setting, and tone.)
In short, mastering dialogue is the fastest, most powerful way to improve your manuscript.
THE DEFINITION AND FUNCTION OF DIALOGUE
Develop a deep understanding of what dialogue is (and what it isn't), and get a rock-solid handle on the five functions of dialogue: reveal character, story, theme, setting and tone.
METHODS FOR EXPRESSION
- Compose dialogue with rich, evocative language
- Master the terrifically important body language that accompanies dialogue
- Discover the value of brevity
- When dialogue gets interrupted—how to perfect the pause
- Convey silence (and discover its power)
- Create emotional dialogue that's resonant, not syrupy
- Use humor effectively
- Recognize when dialogue is unbelievable (and why that makes it so problematic)
- Cut out all useless talk
- Determine the difference between emotional dialogue and purple prose (the overly emotive dialogue)
- Avoid "know-it-all" dialogue
- Figure out just when dialogue has become a mouthpiece for all your great research
- Explore the ways in which overwriting can deaden your dialogue
- Avoid using clichéd language
- Stay away from generalities instead of using the all-important specifics
- Keep yourself (as the author) from intruding into a character's dialogue
- Make sure dialogue is clear, not convoluted
- Learn why active dialogue is better than passive
- Keep dialogue lean and uncluttered
- How to manage speech when your character is alone:
- talking to herself
- having an imaginary conversation
- speaking on the telephone
- conversing telepathically
- What to do when your character is thinking