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Dialogue. Let's Talk About Talk

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

If these elephants could talk in human words what do you think they'd be saying? "Hi there, want to go stare at the human zoo?"  Maybe the other would respond "Let's go shoot water at them. It's hot outside anyway." Well that's my brief thoughts about elephant talk. My thoughts about talking this week are all tied up in dialogue. I love it!

I've been told that I'm heavy on dialogue. Me and Elmore Leonard, right? :) What's not to like?

What do you like when you read a book? I'm passionate about dialogue though I am working hard to find a nice balance in my own work. I've recently discovered something about myself which I think is good. I write my first drafts almost completely in dialogue and then go back and layer in setting, the senses, etc.  Now I would think that this is not how most historical romance writers write. I imagine that most have a heavier hand on setting. That seems reasonable doesn't it? We need to be immersed to some extent in where the writer is taking us so we can become grounded in the story.

I think dialogue can really make a story move. Think about a few lines or paragraphs of dialogue that kept you riveted in a book. Look for pages where there is a lot of dialogue. Do you like what the author did or would you have preferred more narrative or description? Maybe it's just a matter of personal taste, maybe it's more than that.

So when you read a novel, do you like more setting than dialogue? More dialogue than setting? And if you say you want to read a nice balance then which would you choose to have a little more of? Why am I asking you all these questions? Because I'm starting book three and I want to explore another some techniques. Do you do stuff like this?


  1. I don't know if my opinion should count because I'm a little bit out there with my preferences. I like LESS dialogue, but I hear the preference is for more.

    I like more setting and more action.

  2. I'm with you, Jillian. I like to read and to write dialogue. I guess for me I enjoy the interpersonal relationships between characters which so often is in the text and subtext of dialogue.

  3. Good Morning Rosslyn,
    Of course your opinion counts! I didn't know there was a preference for more dialogue. Interesting.

  4. Hi Anne,
    Exactly. I like those nuances of dialogue that can convey so much to the reader. It can be so powerful.

  5. As a writer, I had to work at adding dialogue. As a reader, I like a mix of both but I find the dialogue keeps me there in the story more.

  6. Hi Terri,
    Now that you mention it, I had trouble writing dialogue when I first started writing seriously. Somewhere along the line the ability to write dialogue became fun. That made all the difference. Now I have to work on narrative a bit more.