Monday, April 20, 2015

A to Z Challenge: Q is for Quotes (Around Dialogue)

Welcome to April. With its customary showers comes the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For those who are unfamiliar with it:
The brainchild of Arlee Bird, at Tossing it Out, the A to Z Challenge is posting every day in April except Sundays (we get those off for good behavior.) And since there are 26 days, that matches the 26 letters of the alphabet. On April 1, blog about something that begins with the letter “A.” April 2 is “B,” April 3 is “C,” and so on. You can use a theme for the month or go random – just as long as it matches the letter of the alphabet for the day. (Source) 
The A to Z Challenge is a great way to get into the blogging habit and make new friends. For more details and its history, go HERE 

My theme this year is EDITING

I'll be posting practical advice for editing any story, novel, or other piece of writing. Editing is something most authors struggle with, and after years of doing my own as well as that of others, I have a pretty good eye for what needs work. I'll be doing short posts on editing topics and (hopefully) dispensing simple, valuable advice to help everyone out there self-edit.

Q is for Quotes

Volumes have been written about how to write great dialogue, so I'll only touch on a few things for editing.

1) Everything I've already gone through this month (crutch words, filler words, word choice to establish mood, etc.) all apply to dialogue. Cut those extra words. Use dialogue to establish mood and tone. 

2) Make it realistic. Don't be too over the top. As much as you want drama in your dialogue, not every sentence should end with an exclamation point. Just think about how people talk to one another and emulate that. I actually think watching great T.V. can help you here. Yup, that's right. I just gave you an excuse to plop down in front of your favorite show and call it research. Your welcome! :D

3) Make it unrealistic. In terms of drama, use realism. In terms of grammar and filler words, do NOT use realism. None of us talk in grammatically complete sentences. We use TONS of filler words. ("Can we, like, go to the store, like, right now?") We talk in fragments and interrupt ourselves constantly. (As a race, we all have communication schizophrenia.) Unless you're establishing character through dialogue, don't use these very human speech flaws. Yes, it can establish character, but even so be choosy. It eats up your word count and doesn't read strongly. At all.

4) Read your dialogue out loud. Reading it out loud can do wonders for writing dialogue. It helps you hear it different, and often to hear it as your readers will read it. If it sounds awesome out loud, you're probably golden.

What tricks do you have for writing great dialogue.


  1. The "Read Aloud" is a big one. Whether or not the text flows off the tongue like the speech of an actual human being is very important.

    Harrison Ford has the famous line to George Lucas: "You can write this sh*t, George, but you sure as hell can't say it!"

    1. LOL. I can totally see Harrison Ford saying that. So excited for Star Wars, Episode VII! :D

  2. I've always done many of the things you've already suggested for filler and crutch words. But dialogue is different. I always try to keep in mind how people speak. I even try to make sure each of my characters speak in their own voice, and never precise. "What up?" Isn't accurate, but a character in a story might actually say that.

    1. Yes excellent points. I don't mind showing slang and dialects, but I think people overdo filler words trying to make speech sound realistic, and it's unnecessary. But you're right: It's always good to make each of the characters speak in their own voices. :D

  3. But I like exclamation points!
    Reading it out loud is the best way to spot crappy dialogue.

  4. Coffee in the morning and wine at night.