September 29 – October 5: “Dialogue can be tricky. How do you do it?”

thriller-roundtable-logo5We have a full house this week and ITW Members Karen Harper, Kira Peikoff, Sharon Linnea, Ethan Cross, Patrick Oster, David Swatling, Ovidia Yu, Toni L.P. Kelner, Jon McGoran, Reed Farrel Coleman, B.K. Sherer, A. J. Kerns and David Healey are discussing dialogue. It can be tricky, as the author has to give each character a unique voice that is also distinct from his or her own. How do you do it?

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Deadout by Jon McGoranJon McGoran is author of Drift, a critically acclaimed thriller about biotechnology and genetically engineered foods, and its newly released sequel, Deadout, which expands on those themes and also looks at the mysterious disappearance of honeybee populations worldwide. Writing as D. H. Dublin, he is also the author of the forensic thrillers Body Trace, Blood Poison and Freezer Burn. He is currently working on the follow-up to Deadout, due out in 2015.

Plagues of Eden by Sharon Linnea and B.K. ShererSharon Linnéa is the co-author of the bestselling Eden thrillers (CHASING EDEN, BEYOND EDEN, and TREASURE OF EDEN), as well as the mystery THESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS and award-winning biographies. She lives outside of New York City with her family.

 

 

The Skeleton Takes a Bow by Leigh PerryLeigh Perry is Toni L.P. Kelner in disguise, or maybe vice versa. As Leigh, she writes the Family Skeleton mysteries. As Toni, she’s the co-editor of New York Times best-selling anthologies with Charlaine Harris. She’s also the author of the “Where Are They Now?” mysteries and the Laura Fleming series (all available as e-books and audiobooks), and an Agatha Award winner for short fiction. Leigh/Toni lives just north of Boston with her husband and fellow author Stephen P. Kelner, Jr., their two daughters, and two guinea pigs.

Cover-Blind SpotReed Farrel Coleman has published twenty-one novels and novellas and will be continuing Robert B. Parker’s Jesse Stone series. He is a three-time Shamus Award winner and a three-time Edgar Award nominee. He has also won the Audie, Macavity, Barry, and Anthony Awards. He is an adjunct English instructor at Hofstra University and a founding member of MWA University. He lives with his family on Long Island.

 

The Commuter by Patrick OsterPatrick Oster is a managing editor at Bloomberg News in New York. He was previously editor-in-chief of the National Law Journal and has worked for Business Week in Europe, Knight Ridder in Mexico, and covered the White House, State Department, and the CIA as Washington Bureau Chief of The Chicago Sun-Times. His reporting in Mexico won an Overseas Press Club award. He won a Worth Bingham award for investigative reporting of the Reagan administration and three ABA Silver Gavel awards for coverage of the Supreme Court and other legal topics. He lives in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. His thriller “THE COMMUTER” was published in 2014 by Perseus Books Argo Navis imprint. He is a member of the International Thriller Writers.

Ghost-Sniper-300x200David Healey has been a journalist, librarian and teacher. He has written several novels, including mysteries such as, “The House that Went Down with the Ship” and his recent World War II thriller, “Ghost Sniper.” His nonfiction books include “Great Storms of the Chesapeake” and “1812: Rediscovering Chesapeake Bay’s Forgotten War.”  When not writing, he enjoys hiking, working on his old house, and exploring historical sites.

 

Plagues of Eden by Sharon Linnea and B.K. ShererB. K. Sherer is a Presbyterian minister who currently serves on active duty as a chaplain in the U.S. Army. Her work has taken her to Argentina, Korea, Somalia, and Iraq. She holds masters degrees from Princeton Seminary and U.S. Army War College, and a doctorate from Oklahoma State.

 

 

Shattered Secrets by Karen HarperNew York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Karen Harper is a former high school teacher and university (The Ohio State University) English instructor. The winner of The Mary Higgins Clark Award, Harper is the author of 60books, including contemporary suspense and historical novels. Her books are published in many foreign languages, and she is a bestseller in the UK and Russia.

 

No Time to Die by Kira PeikoffKira Peikoff is a writer based in New York City. She graduated with high honors from New York University in 2007 with a degree in journalism, after four years of various reporting internships: covering street crime for The Daily News, writing about Capitol Hill for The Orange County Register in Washington, D.C., reporting on business and technology for Newsday, and researching feature stories for New York magazine. After completing her first book, LIVING PROOF, Peikoff worked for several years in the editorial departments at two New York publishing houses, which gave her an invaluable inside look at the publishing process and the rapidly changing industry. Her latest thriller NO TIME TO DIE will be released in Fall 2014. Peikoff is working on her third thriller, freelancing for a variety of major media outlets, and attending Columbia University’s Master of Science program in Bioethics.

Father of Fear by Ethan CrossEthan Cross is the international bestselling and award-winning author of THE SHEPHERD, THE CAGE, CALLSIGN: KNIGHT, BLIND JUSTICE, and THE PROPHET—a novel described by bestselling author Jon Land as “The best book of its kind since Thomas Harris retired Hannibal Lecter,” while #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Gardner said, “The surprises are fast and furious and will leave you breathless to read more.” His latest book in the Shepherd series, FATHER OF FEAR, is in the stores.

Calvin's Head by David SwatlingDavid Swatling grew up in New York, studied theatre, and moved to Amsterdam in 1985. He produced arts and culture programs for Radio Netherlands and is three-time winner of the NLGJA Excellence in Journalism Award. CALVIN’S HEAD is his first novel.

 

Aunty Lee's Deadly Specials by Ovidia YuSingaporean writer Ovidia Yu has had over thirty plays produced in Singapore, Malaysia, Australia, including ’3 Fat Virgins’, ‘The Woman In A Tree On The Hill’ (Edinburgh Fringe First) and ‘Hitting (On) Women’ (Singapore Audience Award, Singapore Life! Theatre Awards Best Original Script). Her children’s book THE MUDSKIPPER (Scholastic, 2012) was runner up for the Scholastic Asian Book Award. Her Singaporean Murder Mystery series (AUNTY LEE’S DELIGHTS 2013 and AUNTY LEE’S SPECIAL POISONS, 2014) is published by William Morrow/ Harper Collins.

africaArthur Kerns is a retired FBI supervisory special agent and past president of the Arizona chapter of the Association of Former Intelligence Officers (AFIO). His award-winning short fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies. He is a book reviewer for the Washington Independent Review of Books. In March 2013 Diversion Books, Inc. published his espionage thriller, The Riviera Contract and in May 2014 the sequel, The African Contract.

 

32 Comments
  1. Writing dialogue is definitely tricky. When I’m trying to give each character a unique voice, I try to think of people I’ve known with certain personality traits similar to the character I’m writing. For example, for many years I lived across the street from an old blind gentleman in his 90s who was incredibly self-sufficient, dignified, and kind. I admired him so much that I tried to channel his spirit in my new book NO TIME TO DIE, in the form of the protagonist’s grandfather.

    I think it also helps to build out your characters’ back stories, physical traits, and quirks before you sit down to write their dialogue. I fill out a detailed questionnaire about the main players so I have a decent handle on what drives them, where they grew up, their socioeconomic status, their basic philosophy about life, and other characteristics that influence a person’s speech.

    Lastly, observe real people communicating. Listen to how they phrase their thoughts, where they pause in sentences or give emphasis, and observe their gestures, facial expressions, and body language. Hopefully this will give you ideas for how to give your characters unique modes of speech while also remaining true to life.

    1. Thank you Kiera. So important to know the characters. I use profile questionnaires also and I carry them in my notebook all the time. In my current WIP, my characters have aliases and disguises. I’m constantly checking not to confuse them.

  2. Because most of the fiction I’ve written has been set in the past, the challenge is to give each character an authentic and unique historical voice. A Civil War soldier wouldn’t say, “Yo, General Lee! You want us to charge across this frickin’ field? What’s up with that?”

    Sometimes dialogue from the past sounds surprisingly modern. We just saw a production of “Macbeth” in the town park and I think it’s Banquo who tosses out a line: “Thanks for that.” That dialogue sounded so modern to my ears compared to “Lay on, MacDuff!”

    The other end of the spectrum is when dialogue for historical characters is a little too authentic. You can see how Mark Twain struggled with this in “Huckleberry Finn.” He tries to recreate Jim’s dialogue phonetically through spelling and punctuation, with mixed results. When kids in school say they just don’t get the book, I think it’s this dialogue that throws them off.

    If Mark Twain struggled with creating accents on the page, us lesser mortals are really out of our depth when we attempt that messy punctuation.

    So what to do?

    Sticking with formal language helps because it has a timeless quality. For example, rather than trying to recreate the speech patterns of Napoleonic-era Royal Navy sailors in my YA series “The Sea Lord Chronicles,” the characters tends to speak in more formal tones. Adding appropriate nautical terms helps. Overall, it ages the dialogue without making it stilted.

    Did you ever help your kids with a school project where they had to soak a sheet of paper in tea and then burn the edges to make it look old? We understand that the result is artificial, and yet we accept that the look of the paper represents something old without thinking twice about it.

    The technique also works well for characters speaking in a foreign language. In my thriller “Ghost Sniper,” the villain is a German sniper. Obviously I’m not going to send readers to Google translate for every line of dialogue, and throwing in one too many uses of“Schnell!” or “Scheisse!” can give the story all the authenticity of a “Hogan’s Heroes” re-run.

    Again, my solution has been to have the sniper speak without using any contractions, and usually is a more formal manner. It makes the dialogue just different enough to represent a foreign language and set the German sniper’s dialogue apart from the speech patterns of the American soldiers.

    Overall, this approach avoids all that messy punctuation that readers can’t wade through while still giving historical characters a unique voice.

  3. Posted on behalf of author Reed Farrel Coleman:

    For my protagonist as with all my characters, I must hear his or her voice in my head before I can put it down on the screen. How do I know what a character’s sounds like? Good question. I ask myself what they would sound like. What they sound like is usually derived from their central emotions. Who they are at their cores. Once I have that, I usually hear their voices. Now, to distinguish characters from one another, I try to give central characters distinctive ways of speaking. One character might drop his gs. “I was goin’ shoppin’ and … ” Another character might have a distinctive tic in her speech. She might start all of her conversations with the word so. “So, I was going shopping … “ A character, an Eastern European, for instance, might confuse word order. “I am saying to my wife, throw me down the stairs my hat.” Then of course, the character might have a particular dialect or accent. “A character from Brooklyn might say “Fugetaboudit.” Just beware, a little bit of dialect or accent goes a long way. It’s better to imply dialect and accent than to do whole reams of dialect and accent. Readers will pick up on the hints you drop about a character’s pattern of speech and know who that character is by his or her distinctive way of speaking. Also, limit how many three or more person scenes involving dialogue. It’s difficult, regardless of skill level, to do these kinds of scenes without attributions.

  4. I like to make my characters do audition monologues before I start writing. These are usually 250 to 500 word first person pieces. They don’t go into the book but I keep them as references.

    Writing these in their ‘own’ voices helps me sketch out who they are as I find out how they would talk to or as themselves/ lovers/ strangers/ colleagues/ murderers/ potential victims.

    That some of them can’t speak of their childhoods or victims helps me find their vocal range as well as the ‘key’ they speak in–which is very useful.

    And I find that casting real people as characters when I’m writing these monologues helps anchor and expand their voices. For example in a historical mystery I’m sketching out I have Benedict Cumberbatch playing René Onraet and Meryl Streep playing Sophia Blackmore… yes, only in my dreams so I’ll dream big!

    1. Ovida: That is a great idea about writing character description monologues just to get to know the characters better and hear their voices. I always know it’s time to stop researching/ thinking about the book when I hear the characters start talking to each other. Your monologues would help with that.

  5. Dialog is the tip of the iceberg.

    You’ve probably heard that nine-tenths of an iceberg is below the surface. So whatever it is you see, you know there’s a whole lot more you don’t see.

    Characters are like that. The major characters in good fiction–and many of the minor ones–have attributes like age, gender, physical condition, height, hair color, ethnicity, educational level, social class, and the era in which he or she lives. Characters have history that happened before the story begins, and if the character has appeared in your work before, there are even more layers.

    But you can’t stop the story to give a character’s whole background! Sure, you can put in a little bit of exposition to give a few key characteristics, but I think the best tool a writer for introducing a character is dialog. That’s when the character comes to life. You put in the rest of that ninety-percent as needed for the story.

    You don’t have to show the whole iceberg–just the tip.

  6. With past lives in theater and radio, I’ve always been keenly aware of how people talk. And nothing pulls me out of a story faster than awkward dialogue. Especially when it’s the author doing the talking and not the characters. I love a beautiful sentence as much as any reader or writer. But when it comes out of a character’s mouth in dialogue, red flags go up immediately.

    Like Reed, I hear the voices in my head as I write and just let ’em pour out onto the page. Later I’ll bring them to life out-loud. If I trip over a sentence, it’s probably wrong. That’s when I tighten the specifics of rhythm, pace, mannerisms, etc. until it sounds right.

    Like right now. I’m trying to write this the way I talk, the way I’d be saying this to you if we were sitting in a bar together. I’d say something – and then listen to what you had to say. Really listen. And respond to what you said. Characters who just talk without listening to each other is another thing that really bugs me. Any good actor knows that listening is as important in dialogue as talking. Maybe more so. But a lot of writers don’t get that at all.

    I don’t know. Maybe this isn’t so helpful. Maybe I’m lucky to have a bunch of different voices in my head all the time, arguing with each other, vying for attention. And some of them keeping quiet, listening, waiting for the right moment to pop out with a real zinger.

  7. Steal, Steal, Steal. Writers have been stealing plot ideas since the Bible, and dialogue is no less fruitful a terrain. Find a writer you respect in a genre you plan to adopt and see what he or she does. No plagiarism, of course, but it will put you in the mood.
    Don’t always do dialogue in full sentences unless you have a very stuff, Victorian character or an English professor. Most people are more likely to clip off the beginning of their remarks and say something like “Could be.” Instead of “That could be.” Or “’Fraid so.” Instead of “I’m afraid so.”
    Mobsters who want to convey a WTF sentiment often begin that remark with just “TF.” Listen to the Sopranos. Or read Elmore Leonard.

  8. Dialogue can make or break a book. Here are some things I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, through a 30 year writing career.

    (1) Eavesdrop on everyone you can. No, I don’t mean be a snoop, but listen! People talking to each other do not use their names all the time. “Well, Mary, like I said, I agree.” “Thanks, Rick, I’m glad you do.” No way! Sounds fakey. Nor do people speak in entire, lovely sentences unless there is some reason for very formal speech.

    (2) Watch overdoing the tags used to tell the reader who is talking. If only two people are speaking, you can go for a while without he said, she said. And don’t overdo verbs or adverbs for effect–“He spit out at her angrily.” Simple verbs like said and replied work wonders.

    Remember–when in doubt, leave it out. Please let the Roundtable authors hear your sugestions for great dialogue.

    1. Totally agree about the two-person dialogue not needing a “said” after every remark. But when you do use a word in dialogue, as my first agent, bless her soul, once told me, “Make it said, said or said.” not opined or gushed or even shouted. (Use an exclamation point on that last one, she advised.) She might have even given you some opposition to “replied.” Very Old School. Her main point was don’t do anything to distract from the voice of your character.
      To that end, I always put my dialogue in a new paragraph, movie script style, whereas I see other writes put it in the middle of a paragraph about what a character is doing or at the end.
      any preferences out there?

      1. Hi Patrick,

        Your comment about the use of “said” as a speech tag leads to another thought about dialogue. As a writer, I always find it harder to manage scenes in which more than one character is speaking. When three (or more) characters enter a scene, those speech tags really help.

        What helps even more is to pair characters off so that just two are speaking in a scene. That naturally adds to the tension in a scene.

        Of course, some writers are very good at juggling multiple characters in a scene. I often go back to John Sandford’s newest book, “Fields of Prey,” where the characters are brainstorming about a case around a kitchen table. It all comes off very naturally. Obviously, there are a few “saids” thrown in to keep the dialogue on track.

        1. Yeah three or more is a tough one, especially if there is some disagreement going on and all the characters want to jump in. no avoiding the “said” identifiers then.
          But if you can have the two most important ones duel it out, as you suggest, and the other(s) chime in from time to time with their two cents, that can work whether the third person is the sage of the group doing adult supervision or the idiot who says: I don’t get it.
          Will check out Fields of Prey.

  9. Dialogue is hugely important, and it can be an amazingly economical means to convey a lot about characters. You can usually find plenty in a character’s backstory that can help make that character’s voice unique and distinctive. While I try to avoid dialect (you don’t want your dialogue as difficult to decipher as a bad vanity license plate), but different ethnic, social, cultural, educational and other aspects of a character’s background can provide enough influences on speaking styles and word choices that they not only help the reader keep the characters straight, but more importantly they deepen the reader’s understanding of the characters, and relationships with them.
    This is a little trickier when dealing with siblings or characters with shared or similar backgrounds. Keeping those voices distinct can indeed be a challenge. One method is to intentionally give similar characters some sort of distinctive background element that makes them less similar, ideally something that can easily be reflected in a some sort of speech pattern. This may feel disingenuous, but it can be very effective. And if the characters’ similarities are considered early enough in the writing process, those imposed differences can become an early part of the process of constructing those characters, helping to inform the writer’s understanding of who those characters are.

    1. Dialect and foreign accents are tricky. I’ve found it best to say something like, He spoke with a heavy Scottish accent, rather than trying to re-create that, even if I know what such an accent sounds like. However, I think a minor southern character’s leaving the g off the end of ing words can work–if they don’t talk too much. Word choice can help convey a “foreign accent” or dialect, of course, although in our cover-the-world media even particular sayings don’t belong to one country anymore. I see Chelsea Clinton just described her feelings about being a new mother as “We are over the moon,” which used to be strictly a British phrase.

  10. Wow! You’ve all put together a great primer on dialogue in fiction. Here’s my take on it:

    1) Develop an ear. Karen is right: eavesdrop as often as you can on how people really talk. For one thing, you’ll notice that, in real life, we hardly ever call each other by name. Reed is so right, also, that people from different countries have different cadences and speech patterns. Rebecca Cantrell wrote Hannah’s dialogue in German and then translated it into English for her Hannah Vogel series.

    2) Hear it out loud. I come from a background of play writing, and one thing that helps ENORMOUSLY when you’re starting out is to get a bunch of actors (or friends) around a table and have them say the dialogue out loud. It immediately becomes obvious what works and what doesn’t. As you become more seasoned, reading it out loud to yourself is helpful. But, if you can, treat yourself to a “table read” of the dialogue.

    3) People seldom say what they mean. Toni is right: remember the iceberg. Declarative sentences that are on-the-nose make your characters shallow and the dialogue uninteresting. Why are they choosing to say what they’re saying? How are they saying it? What is the result they’re after? As important as what a character says is what she DOESN’T say.

    4) Use information as ammunition. This is a great trick in fiction and scripts/plays as well. HOW information is disseminated can make a scene electric. Giving information as a litany in a paragraph is nowhere near as interesting as having characters use it to injure each other in an argument or leverage it for romance or other reasons.

    Mostly, have fun. If YOU enjoy reading your dialogue, chances are your readers will feel the same way.

  11. When I’m worried that my characters voices aren’t consistent, I go through the manuscript and just read the dialog from one character at a time. So I read all of Bob’s lines, and if Bob is folksy in one bit and distinctly formal English in another, I generally realize there’s a problem. (Unless there’s a reason for him to speak differently, of course.)

    Reading dialog out loud helps make it sound more natural, to.

  12. Before my characters speak I try to get into their minds and have them express themselves in a way that seems natural for them. Easier for your main cast because you know them, less so with minor characters. I keep reminding myself the dialogue must carry the story.

    A few rules I’ve been taught. Do not have your non-native English speakers contract their words, i.e., don’t, can’t. Have them say do not, cannot. It’s hard enough for a foreigner to learn English without picking up the little quirks in the language. Those who struggled to master French all their lives will appreciate this.

    Another tip I’ve learned is don’t overuse slang or vernacular. Maybe have your character start with it but afterward use it sparingly. For the average reader, having to plow through thick patois gets very boring and becomes I find silly.

    Being a shameless eavesdropper has limited value. Everyday conversations you listen to on a bus or metro trains that are placed on paper will drive the reader crazy. However, listening to conversations to pick up cadence, word choice, and nuances are well worth the time.

    Dialogue is so important these days. It moves the story, moves the pace. Large blocks of narrative on a page will turn off the modern reader. They can’t handle it. It stops them. The mere presence of all that type stops me and I’m of a well-along generation.

    My writing groups continually tell me that no matter how distinctive each character’s voice you still need tags.

    1. Hi Arthur,

      I’ve also wrestled with characters who aren’t English speakers, and have used the “no contractions” technique you recommend. It works well to give that ring of authenticity.

      Regional characters can be just as challenging. I had this problem recently when writing a war story.

      I’m old enough that I remember when WWII movies used to be on Saturday and Sunday afternoons on Channel 45 in Baltimore. Long before the days of cable! I loved those old war movies like “Battle of the Bulge” or “The Guns of Navarone.” The problem was that it’s easy to confuse the characters. They’re all wearing the same uniform. They’re all guys. And they’re roughly the same age.

      In terms of dialogue, writing war stories presents the challenge of making someone from New England sound different from a soldier Down South.

      A little speech pattern “seasoning” can be helpful when used sparingly. For example, I love apple butter, but a thin layer on my toast does the trick. I love scrapple, but I want a slice or two fried nice and crispy, not a mushy slab of it.

      For example, recently in my WWII story “Ghost Sniper” I have a character who is from the hill country, so he tosses in an “I reckon” every now and then. That’s just enough to make him sound different without resorting to a lot of cumbersome phonetic spelling.

      Thank you for sharing your own tips!

    2. Thank you Karen! I shocked myself with this WIP. I’m writing the final chapter today. Actually I had thought my previous chapter was going to be the last but an interesting plot solution emerged that I didn’t want to rush. I’m finding that with this WIP I’m writing in deeper pov. Maybe because I identify more with the characters. Even the ones in the wrong side of the law.

  13. Definitely I do the eavesdropping thing. I’m a New York City gal and I’m living in rural central Florida. So the accents I hear are from all over the country. My WIP takes place in NYC. Digging into memory for that one but only six years so it’s doable. For me I hear the voices in my head. I see the scene play out before my eyes so when I’m writing I describe what I see. My current WIP is just pouring out of me. Writing final chapter today.

    What are your thoughts on a novel that flows onto paper fluidly vs one that takes labor to get the words out? I’d be interested to hear if the first makes a better novel or not. Thank you!

    1. Ronnie–What a gift if you novel is “flowing.” Enjoy it and don’t let it worry you. On the other hand I have writer friends who agonize over nearly every word–and they still produce great, “free-flowing” books. We all write differently. Sometimes something just clicks more than at other times, the key character, maybe the all-important voice sweeps you along. I’ve had scenes that were so stubborn and others that emerged full blown.

    2. Ronnie, good for you if the words are flowing onto the page! Does it make a better novel than one where you have to struggle with each sentence? I don’t think one is better than the other, and if you have that inside you pouring out, that is wonderful!

      1. Thanks David! I was concerned about the speed at which this novel appeared to be writing itself. I had the plot outlined, and notebooks and folders of research, but it pulled together in the right sequence fast. Because of the writing being almost automatic I know I have to go back through and make sure things ate consistent.

  14. I also write historical novels–Tudor England so far. That’s an entirely new voice, a whole new bag of tricks for narration and dialogue. No way to I want to write in Elizabethan/Shakespearian language, but the more formal sentence structure and a well-chosen word can work wonders. It is a trick to understand their slang, yet choose only that which can be grasped by a modern reader. Anyone else have suggestions on flavoring historic language without losing the reader?

  15. A few things I wanted to add…

    ACCENTS
    If you’re going to use regional accents, be very careful indeed. I’m a Southerner, and cannot tell you how many times I’ve read patently phony Southern accents. Or authentic accents from the wrong part of the country–folks from the NC mountains do not speak the same way as folks in New Orleans, even though they’re all Southerners.

    SLANG
    I like Joss Whedon’s approach. He was asked how he dealt with slang in BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER, which is set in a high school. How do you stay current when he slang might very well change by the time the show hits the air? He said this: Make it up. Create slang that sounds reasonable, and go with it. Works pretty darned well!

  16. I’ve learned from over 20 years of writing scripts for multiple companies & producers that every line of dialogue has to be lean and reveal something, moving the plot forward. In writing my debut thriller, Boysie Blake, I based the characters, as we all have, on people I’ve known throughout my life, giving them intention. I always sound out the characters in their own voices, fortunately only annoying my dog who looks at me like I’m completely off my trolley, which I probably am.

    Screenplays rely more on dialogue than on description to set the pace, and I apply that to novel writing.The major difference, of course, is that with a novel, one has more time to explore the plot and character backgrounds. As Karen pointed out, the over use of ‘he said’ ‘she said’ is tedious and distracting. I also restrict myself with words that slow the pace of the dialogue: so, and, then, but, etc., which forces me to find another way to say it, but without the fat.

    Anyway, that’s my 2 cents, or pennies. Gotta bounce as my dog is looking hungrily at my ankle bone. Better feed the sod.

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