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Old 12-09-2012, 09:30 AM   #1
jhempel24
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Dialogue Questions

I'm getting alot of help here and other places, and really appreciate it, in my first writing venture outside of High School.

I have a question about dialogue. Someone had said it had to be a battle, not how people actually talk. And to an extent I do get that. But how do you create a battle if the tension comes from you character having to be strictly obedient and compliant? I would think the tension would be inherent, the reader waiting for them to slip up, or not wanting them to because bad things could happen.

That being said....I am taking all info I get and trying to figure out what works for me because I am brand new to this.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:44 AM   #2
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I disagree with the advice you've been given. Dialogue should be realistic, or else it will sound artificial. Just imagine the conversation that you want to take place, and write it down verbatim.

BTW - one of my pet hates . There's no such word as "alot". It's "a lot" - two separate words.
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Old 12-09-2012, 10:01 AM   #3
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Quote:
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I disagree with the advice you've been given. Dialogue should be realistic, or else it will sound artificial. Just imagine the conversation that you want to take place, and write it down verbatim.

BTW - one of my pet hates . There's no such word as "alot". It's "a lot" - two separate words.
ah crap....I've been trying to avoid the world "alot" lately, I know it's not a word, it just seems like that LOL.

And I agree, it should be realistic...maybe he was talking that the dialogue wasn't moving the story forward? I don't know...I went over what I had many many times since then...and can't find something. And if it's always a battle, then my story is out the window
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Old 12-09-2012, 10:39 AM   #4
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Dialogue doesn't exist in a vacuum. There are other cues that add tension or other emotional context. If the dominant character tells the submissive one to be still and the submissive character moves around or if they are supposed to be quiet and find themselves humming for example and then the dominant one takes some action or speaks harshly to the other character and back and forth etc. Or maybe something about the setting interacts with the character. They have to be still but it's hot outside or their foot is going to sleep etc.
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:39 AM   #5
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Thanks for the input!!
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:18 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jhempel24 View Post
Someone had said it had to be a battle, not how people actually talk.
I don't agree with that at all. Dialogue needs to be natural and organic, and at the same time stripped away with all the unnecessary details that will bore your readers.

Dialogue is a powerful tool, it serves to build character, create tension and drama, change the pacing of your book, and create backstory.

A book that helped me a lot is "The First 5 Pages" by Noah Lukeman. A fantastic read for anyone who's writing.

Good luck, and the best to you! We're all rooting for you.

Cheers,

L.W.
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:30 PM   #7
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Okay...this is exactly what was written to me, and a link to what I've written to see what he's talking about

https://www.box.com/s/bblll2b2z77ok61evwkh

Quote:
Two pieces of advice to start with, Joe Hempel

1) Get right to the action. Set your scene on the fly, not as your opener. You have 6 seconds to grab a reader by the short hairs and pull them into your story. You're not gonna do that by describing a barn. You lost me in the first 3 seconds.

2) Dialogue isn't a recording of how people speak. It's battle... and its should say something about the relationship between the characters and/or move the story forward: eg:

"Samantha, Dear... Come help with Supper!"
"What? Are Brian's arms broken?"

"Samantha, Dear... Come help with Supper!"
"I'm not hungry"

"Samantha, Dear... Come help with Supper!"
"It better not be leftovers again!"

etc etc. Again... dialogue is NOT an account of people speaking the way they would in real life. It's battle.
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Old 12-09-2012, 02:44 PM   #8
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His (?) advice about opening with some action, depending on your genre is smart, his advice on dialog is way off. I have not had a chance to read your link yet, but as everyone here has said... dialog needs to be REAL or do not bother with it.
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Old 12-09-2012, 04:02 PM   #9
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Thanks....I've only heard from one person that it didn't grab them by page one. However, I've been thinking about revising the opening a little to grab them at paragraph one.

After about 5,000 or 6,000 words then I'll see what I can go back and change.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:21 PM   #10
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There should be a point to the dialogue. People talk all the time, you don't recount everything they say in your novel, only the stuff which moves the story on, and then it is stripped back to show only the essential stuff.

So dialogue about what's for supper, whether to put out the good knives, if the dishwasher had been unloaded, etc should be skipped, and you go straight to the bit where the wife accuses the husband of cheating.

I'm not sure I'd say that every dialogue should be a battle, but something should change during it. There should be a shift in the balance of power, no matter how subtle.
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:31 PM   #11
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Every word in a piece of fiction should contribute something to the piece itself. Unnecessary words are like unnecessary parts in a machine.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:02 PM   #12
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I wouldn't panic about the opening. Not yet. It is not unusual for the opening to written or rewritten after everything else is done.

For a start the exact feel of the story is not always clear until the book is almost done. In my own first book I wrote a prologue well after completing the first draft (even though the scene had existed in my head from very early on), and I didn't actually decide to use that prologue for even longer. In my second book I pulled a scene from my first chapter and used that as a prologue, after I'd finished writing the story, because only then was it obvious that the the scene didn't belong where it was.

Whether all or any of these choices prove to be good ones remains to be seen, but the point is that where and how you choose to start a book remains flexible. Somewhere I read the comment that there was nothing wrong with most first novels that dropping the first three or four chapters couldn't fix. I can see at least an element of truth in this, even in what I decided to publish, but - for better or worse - I still chose to tell the story the way I wanted it told, and to hell with the theory. Which leads me to...

Like most writing rules, the advice about the opening of the book needs to be tempered with a few practicalities. If you're writing an action thriller or horror story then getting right into it is, I guess, bordering on critical. It's what your readers have come to expect in this this world where so many such books feel effectively the same. But with other genre's there is still some room to move.

Obviously you must still interest or intrigue your reader very quickly, but that doesn't always involve looking down the barrel of a gun from the first sentence*. Always remember that it's your book. Don't bore the reader, especially not in the opening, but it doesn't always have to be a battle from the off. Suit the opening to the story. Intrigue the reader, but set up your story as you want it to feel.

* I think it was an Alistair Maclean novel where I first remember that as the opening scene, but I can't remember which one, or what happened next. Dramatic opening scenes may grab the reader, but they don't necessarily make for a memorable book.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:24 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by crich70 View Post
Every word in a piece of fiction should contribute something to the piece itself. Unnecessary words are like unnecessary parts in a machine.
This is such wonderful advice, if only it meant something. Sorry, that comes out harsher than I really mean it to sound. The fact is that "necessary" with fiction is such a subjective thing.

There's a clip on YouTube where they give the story of Lord of the Rings as it should have gone: Gandalf and the hobbits hop on the great eagles and fly over Mount Doom and drop the ring in - the end. That tells the story doesn't it? Even down to the importance of the eagles that you haven't really met before unless you read The Hobbit. Everything else is filler.

The justification for all the extra bits is that they are what make the story interesting to the reader. Characters that seem real and interesting. Scenes that impart the feel of reality, of being there. A story that involves the reader, that has some emotional impact. But it's up to the author to decide just how much is needed to achieve each of these goals.

Yes, you should remove everything that adds nothing to the story, character and scene that is unfolding. But that still leaves a lot of room to add more than you need ... or not enough. Deciding what is enough is often the task of the second draft. The first draft is telling the story to yourself, the second draft is telling the story to others. Stephen King, in "On Writing", passes on the suggestion that the second draft is usually the first draft minus 10%.

Last edited by gmw; 12-09-2012 at 09:31 PM.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:45 PM   #14
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This is such wonderful advice, if only it meant something. Sorry, that comes out harsher than I really mean it to sound. The fact is that "necessary" with fiction is such a subjective thing.

There's a clip on YouTube where they give the story of Lord of the Rings as it should have gone: Gandalf and the hobbits hop on the great eagles and fly over Mount Doom and drop the ring in - the end. That tells the story doesn't it? Even down to the importance of the eagles that you haven't really met before unless you read The Hobbit. Everything else is filler.

The justification for all the extra bits is that they are what make the story interesting to the reader. Characters that seem real and interesting. Scenes that impart the feel of reality, of being there. A story that involves the reader, that has some emotional impact. But it's up to the author to decide just how much is needed to achieve each of these goals.

Yes, you should remove everything that adds nothing to the story, character and scene that is unfolding. But that still leaves a lot of room to add more than you need ... or not enough. Deciding what is enough is often the task of the second draft. The first draft is telling the story to yourself, the second draft is telling the story to others. Stephen King, in "On Writing", passes on the suggestion that the second draft is usually the first draft minus 10%.
True. What I meant was that the dialogue should add to the story in some way. As someone else pointed out you shouldn't go into a long spiel about what's for dinner unless it has some bearing on the story itself. For example if it's a story where the husband's boss is coming to dinner and he's allergic to something or if she's trying to impress her new mother-in-law etc. Dialogue has text and subtext. The text tells us direct information and the way it's presented tells us about the characters who are speaking the dialogue.
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:46 PM   #15
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I can't thank everyone enough for all the help they've given! All this is such sound advice!
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