Character Speak

Dialogue in stories or screenplays can be tricky. It can sound wooden or contrived, or natural and unstudied. As writers, we need it to keep our plots moving and our characters real. A few dialogue tips from pros:

“Every person in a conversation has an agenda, and you need to know what each agenda is.”

“Dialogue is not a break in the action, it’s an intensification of action.”

“[Dialogue] is not the way we speak. Dialogue must appear realistic without being realistic. It’s not natural, but must suggest natural less. It is speech that is distilled, refined, and controlled.”

From John Dufresne, “The Lie That Tells a Truth:“”

“What is the trick to writing believable dialogue?” The screenwriter Andrew Bujalski was asked. His answer”Write out the scene the way you hear it in your head. Then read it and find the parts where the characters are saying exactly what you want/need them to say for the sake of narrative clarity (e.g., ‘I’ve secretly loved you all along, but I’ve been too afraid to tell you.’) Cut that part out. See what’s left. You’re probably close.”

Elizabeth Bowen on dialogue: It should be buried, it should add to the reader’s present knowledge; it should eliminate the routine exchanges of ordinary conversation; it should convey a sene of spontaneity; it should reveal the speaker’s character, directly and indirectly; it should depict the relationship among the speakers.

E.M. Forster speaks of certain literary characters—he calls the “round” characters—who “surprise us each time they reappear. When conversing, such characters “draw one another out without seeming to do so.”

Margaret Drabble says: People have sometimes asked me why I have never written successfully for the theater. It’s because I need a lot of exposition, I need a lot of interior monologue. I need description. Ican’t actually do dialogue just as dialogue; it has to be the result of everything else that’s happening.”

When our dialogue sings, our stories dance. Write on!

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About karinwritesdangerously

I am a writer and this is a motivational blog designed to help both writers and aspiring writers to push to the next level. Key themes are peak performance, passion, overcoming writing roadblocks, juicing up your creativity, and the joys of writing.
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