Sunday, January 25, 2015
He Said, She Said; The Road to Boredom
Dialogue is so important in a novel. Dialogue can create emotion. In writing, anger can be easily expressed with an exclamation point. Excitement can be expressed the same way. “Eureka! I’ve found it!” and “So help me, if you come near her again I’ll kill you!” are two examples.
In my novel Borough Hall, the setting started out in 14th century Bucharest, Romania. The dialogue had to be old world, with little to no abbreviations, such as using the phrase ‘we can’t’ instead of ‘we cannot.’ It was also important to keep that same dialogue going throughout the story even though it covered several centuries. It was important to me that the characters maintained their ‘old world’ personas.
When you’re in a room with any number of people, it’s easy to keep track of who’s saying what to whom. When you’re reading a story, it’s more difficult. If the story has three characters talking to each other, they have to be identified with names and you have to let the reader know who is talking. Let’s say you have a woman talking to two gentlemen. “Where are you from?” John asked Sarah. “I’m originally from Salem, but I recently moved here.” Alan asked her “What brought you to this sleepy town?” You know that John and Alan each asked Sarah a question. You also know that she answered merely by the response. I didn’t have to say ‘Sarah replied, or said.’
The use of ‘he said, she said’ can be abused. Repetitive use of such verbiage can quickly lead to boredom for the reader. Obviously if you only have two characters talking with each other, it isn’t necessary for you to tell the reader who is talking all of the time. It should flow just as in real life. However, sometimes you want to add emotion to the statements. Example: Michelle hung her head. “I don’t know what I’m going to do about him” she said with a sigh. You can tell that Michelle is in a situation that she is having a hard time dealing with, and it’s weighing heavily on her.
Dialogue can also help build a certain type of character. If you’ve ever read any Elmore Leonard you know what I mean. Most of his characters are gruff and their language reflects that through their dialogue. His books are most often crime novels and the characters are on the tough, sometimes seedy side. ‘Street language’ has a large role in his books. I love reading him.
That’s my post for the week. Take some time to check out Borough Hall: Conversion.
Also take a look at my featured author of the week:
Carrie Aulenbacher, author of The Early Bird Café (on SALE starting Feb. 1st)
Ms. Aulenbacher also contributes to iUrban an online freelance magazine that helps authors become more known.