Dialog

Read your story aloud and pay close attention to the dialog. Reading the story aloud lets you hear the dialog as it would sound if your character were a real person and all had your voice or that of the computer. Once you hear it spoken, you can correct it to sound more natural. Choose words that people will ‘hear’ as correct as they read the dialog. It helps them suspend belief and go along with the story.

“Hi,” said Tom.

“Hi, yourself,” said Mary.

Tom put the fresh fish he had brought on the kitchen counter. “When did you get here? How have you been?” Tom said.

“Early this morning.” Mary took orange juice from out of the refrigerator and poured two glasses. “You’d already gone out fishing.”

That said, the word said does very well when writing dialog. Don’t overuse it in the fictional conversation though. You can use it to set the dialog up and then do without it.

“Hi,” said Tom.

“Hi, yourself,” said Mary.

Tom put the fresh fish he had brought on the kitchen counter. “When did you get here? How have you been?”

“Early this morning.” Mary took orange juice from out of the refrigerator and poured two glasses. “You’d already gone out fishing.”

That’s how you handle dialog. The word said could have been used each time and been ok, but you don’t want to overdo it. You could also do pronouns for the names, but be careful if there are more than one individual of a particular gender in a scene. You want your reader to know who is speaking when.

“Hi,” said Tom.

“Hi, yourself,” said Mary.

“Morning,” said Harry. Tom put the fish he’d caught on the kitchen counter.

“When did you get here, Mary?”

“Early this morning,” she opened the refrigerator and took out the orange juice. “You’d already left to go fishing.”

“I see.” Tom moved the fish to the sink and began cleaning it. “How have you been?”

“Good, you?”

“Could you pour me a glass of that orange juice, while you’re pouring it?” Harry pulled out a chair and sat down.

“I’m fine,” he said.

“No problem, Harry.” Mary got a second glass out.

So in that example, who is fine? Tom or Harry? Now consider the dialog this way.

“Hi,” said Tom.

“Hi, yourself,” said Mary.

“Morning,” said Harry. Tom put the fish he’d caught on the kitchen counter.

“When did you get here, Mary?”

“Early this morning,” she opened the refrigerator and took out the orange juice. “You’d already left to go fishing.”

“I see.” Tom moved the fish to the sink and began cleaning it. “How have you been?”

“Good, you?”

“Could you pour me a glass of that orange juice, while you’re pouring it?” Harry pulled out a chair and sat down.

“I’m fine,” said Tom.

“No problem, Harry.” Mary got a second glass out.

You know who everyone is when they speak, but you don’t clutter up the scene with a lot of Mary said, Tom said or Harry said. It’s clear and concise. Dialog should be like that. It’s more natural too, if your characters don’t name each other in every other sentence. You don’t do that yourself, so don’t make your characters do that. Fixing dialog is a big part of revision. Skip it and your work will suffer for it.

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I am not one who is comfortable talking about myself but here goes. I enjoy writing, family history, and reading. I decided to do this blog because I wanted to try something new. I decided to make it a weekly blog because I wasn't sure that I could keep up with a daily one, and monthly seemed like I was writing a magazine. I think I did ok with my choices. You'll notice that there are not a lot of graphics on my site. That's because there are graphics plastered everywhere on the Internet and those sites sometimes take forever to load. This blog is a place where you can kick back, relax and be ready to be amused. At least I hope I willbamuse you. This blog is on a variety of subjects from my ficitional cat agency, the FFL, which is monthly, to instructional blogs to editorials, which are my opinions only. I admit that I don't know everything and could be wrong -- I frequently am. Now, stop reading about me and read what I have to say!

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