Monday, July 25, 2011
Holly Miller, editor of The Saturday Evening Post Magazine for 25 + years, and a published author, gave a great overview of what you should consider as you write dialogue into your novel.
She warns that bad dialogue will make an editor, “groan, laugh, scratch their head, and then reject” your ms. Dialogue is important because it shows that you can write...
Here are the 5 big problems Holly has outlined that should be considered as you write the words of your characters:
1.Dialogue that is too correct. High impact moments that have unnatural dialogue will take away from the believability. Here is my example: “Oh no. My car has caught on fire. I must quickly make a phone call and inform the police.”
2.Put too much back story in dialogue. Here is my example: “My grandmother, who struggled financially during the recession, but made some very wise investments and now is comfortably retired, is coming in town for lunch.”
3.Too much dialogue. A good exercise to see if you have too much is to highlight all narration in one color and dialogue in the other. Imagine manuscripts that have intriguing dialogue, but no internal thoughts, descriptions of setting...picture talking heads in the reader's mind.
4.Too little dialogue. Some of my earlier manuscripts have pages and pages of narration and description, and only a paragraph of dialogue. Sounds like fun reading?
5.Inappropriate word choices for Christian fiction. And I will add my own to this, inappropriate words for the time period if you are writing historical fiction. I received a few criticisms on my contest entries because of this. Webster online shows when words came into the language, so check it out if you have questions on your historical writing.
Do you have examples of any of these in your own writing?
Some Tips from Holly:
1.Jerry Jenkins once said that his first draft always sounds like him, but his second draft takes on characters' own personalities. Be sure to take the time to read through and polish, polish, polish!!
2.Always read dialogue out loud. If you need to, get someone to read with you so you can see how the dialogue sounds.
3.Start a new paragraph every time you switch speakers! :)