Friday, December 26, 2014

The Key to Kickass Dialogue

Dialogue Secrets


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Quick! After a person’s appearance, what’s the first thing you notice when you meet someone? If you’re like most of us, it’s what comes out of their mouths. First impressions and all that. But when you read, you can’t see the characters, so your first impressions are made based on what the characters say, not how they look.

Simple concept, right? Not so simple to deliver.

SO…HOW DO YOU MAKE YOUR CHARACTER MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION?

Give them something to say that is:

·      Believable
·      Fits their personality
·      Consistent, yet unexpected
·      Short and natural

        1)   Believable Dialogue


How do you know if it’s believable or not? Put on your walking shoes and get out your notebook! Head to the spot where the prototype of your character would go. Need to write teens talking together at lunch? Go to a fast-food restaurant near a high school. Want to know what couples say when they’re on a date? Head to a movie theater early and go see latest romantic comedy. You get the idea.

***HINT:  LISTEN AND TAKE GOOD NOTES. I promise you’ll forget the words and how they said them if you don’t.

       2)   Dialogue that fits the character’s personality


There’s a famous writing cliché that says a reader should be able to read a line of dialogue and know who the character is without the identifying dialogue tag.

The key is being the character when you write his or her lines. Imagine YOU are the sensitive butcher who is very observant––seriously! Picture yourself looking out of the eyes of the butcher with your hands on a raw steak and then write his or her lines. A great way for authenticity is to actually observe a butcher talking to his or her customers. Conduct a quick interview if you can, asking his top three concerns about his job. You might be surprised to learn what those things are…and so might your reader.

****HINT: SWITCH INTO THE MINDS of all of your characters (even the minor ones) as you write to create words that only THEY would say.

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       3)   Consistent, yet unexpected? Huh?


Your job is to make sure your characters are real, that they speak the truth (or not, depending on who they are). In real life, characters might keep their thoughts to themselves. Not so in fiction. Characters that are pushed to the brink must speak out––to a best friend, to the cabbie, to the offending party, to the police.

Yes, we want dialogue to be authentic, but it IS a story and it does need to intrigue your readers. So let them speak their mind and propel the story ahead by providing interesting thoughts for your readers to mull over.

***HINT:  TO KEEP PACING ON TRACK, use frequent dialogue to break up paragraphs of exposition.


       4)   Short and Natural


Cut to the chase. No one likes listening to boring blow-hards, so don’t let your characters be one of those people. Remember tuning out a boring teacher? That’s what didactic dialogue and info dumps feel like to your readers. Only include information that’s absolutely necessary for the story’s sake and skip the rest. You need to know the backstory, but keep it to yourself if it isn't essential to the plot.

***HINT:  READ ALL DIALOGUE OUT LOUD. Change voices to the way you imagine the characters interacting and it’ll feel more “real.” If you’re bored with the conversation, so is your reader. If it doesn’t sound the way a person really talks, cut it or revise it. Listen to real people and you’ll notice most of us talk in short sentences with breaks for others to add commentary.


So there you have it. Write dialogue that’s believable, fits the characters, necessary, and natural and your readers will come back for more!

*****
Hopefully you’ll find authentic dialogue galore in WANTED:  DEAD OR IN LOVE, which features two alternating POVs––one from Monroe (a modern-day teen who becomes possessed internally by the infamous Bonnie Parker), and the other from Clyde Barrow himself (who works hard to take over the body of Jack Hale, a teen male).

And if cultural humor is more your style, you’ll get a helping of Polish spirits along with a bounty of teen angst in ONE SMART COOKIE, a Polish teen who seeks the help of her spirit-conjuring grandmother to find the perfect boyfriend.

Kym Brunner


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Bio:

Kym Brunner's method of creating a manuscript: write, procrastinate, sleep, repeat. She's addicted to Tazo chai tea, going to the movies, and reality TV. When she's not reading or writing, Kym teaches 7th grade full time. She lives in Arlington Heights with her family and two trusty writing companions, a pair of Shih Tzus named Sophie and Kahlua. She's repped by Eric Myers of The Spieler Agency.



 

 













 



Wanted: Dead or In Love Book Trailer: