Good morning my fellow writers and readers! This Saturday I’ll summarize Chapter 6 from Story Sense by Paul Lucey.
Chapter Six: Dialogue and Character
As I have stated before some of Lucey’s points really only apply to scripts but some advice translates no matter what format your are writing in.
-Characters should say things that advance the story while revealing a little about who they are.
-One way to work on dialogue is to listen to what people say and how they say it while speaking in real life. Be alert to accents, emotional content, tension, rhythms, and the unspoken subtext behind the spoken words.
-Be careful how much your dialogue is visible. How much does it call attention to its own cleverness which will take the reader out of the story? Flowery language, wise sayings, word plays, puns, metaphors are examples that might break a reader from the story.
-If you wish to avoid swearing (and Lucey highly advises it), play around with inventing a language style that implies things negatively without leaning on standard cuss words or derogatory terms. You old barnacle buffer.
-Strip your dialogue of conventional conversational chaff like ah, uh, um, you know, and well, like.
-The strongest punch to the statement should come at the end.
-Watch your background dumping disguised as conversation. Too many names, dates, and places at once bump the reader from the story. Marble your exposition, trickle it in.
-Situations with drama, positive personal chemistry, time pressure, or negative personal chemistry should have dialogue filled with subtext that reflects the situation. It should not explain everything, but should instead create shadows and mystery.
-A particular way of speaking reveals a lot about a character. The writer must understand the characters back story and demonstrate this content through the speech and behavioral patterns. Characters are revealed by what they say and how they say it, by life experiences that are revealed through action and dialogue, and by values that are expressed through action as characters meet the challenges of the plot.
-Sluggish dialogue stops the story as it dawdles over petty details and does not present conflict, subtext, or drama that connects to the characters emotionally.
-Strategies are meant as path markers as writers stumble along in an effort to know the truth of their characters so well the characters are alive and multi level dialogue occurs naturally from the characters and reflects their emotions rather than the writers.
Heavy thought, that. Allow the characters space to be themselves. Sort of like having kids, you have to shape them gently but ultimately allow them the space to figure out who they want to be.