Friday, November 12, 2010

Dialogue ~ To say or Not to say

Have something to say, and say it as clearly as you can. That is the only secret. 
--Matthew Arnold

Dialogue between two people is often never mis-communicated. When I tell someone, “You look nice today.” It is always met with a smile and a, “Why, thank you.”  But in writing, the dialogue we run into has to be deciphered and seen for its hidden meaning.

We can not use words like THIS, or IT, as we write because we’re giving our reader the opportunity to misunderstand what the IT is that we’re referring to. Dialogue is the same way, we need to be clear and concise so the reader knows just what we’re talking about.

As much as I chide people for lack of imagery, failure to use the senses, I also correct them for using the word IT, THIS or AND. These three simple words can confuse the reader and have them doubling back through the book and we don’t want that. We want them to read, clean and concise words so that they keep turning the pages.

“So your saying that if I write right, the reader will understand what I’m saying?”

“Yes! None of that stuff where you say, ‘it is on the table.’ You let me, the reader, know what IT is!”

“And you’re telling me AND is not good either?”

“Well, when your sentence needs five AND’S in the structuring of a sentence, you are not helping your reader to understand.”

“What was the other word?”

“THIS, silly!”

“Okay let me get this straight. Wait I just used THIS.”

“But in the right context.” I breathed, “Had you said, ‘I just used this.’ Is a reader going to know what THIS is that you used? Of course not. Always explain, elaborate, use your words wisely.”

“Wow, that’s pretty cool.”

“I know, now get your feet offa my table!”

That banter was dialogue. We also need to be aware of how we naturally speak. Often we use words like gonna, didja, offa, I’ma, things of that nature, where, when read out loud, it sounds more fluent.  In writing, our dialogue between two people needs to be clear, but in character. We need to speak, so-to-speak, as natural as possible. Could you tell there were two different people speaking? I didn’t use tags on purpose because that is what this weeks lesson at f2k was all about. The use of dialogue!

We’re in our fifth week and next week will be our final sixth week. It has been exciting picking out the ‘lesson that followed all the rules, guidelines and understanding of the lesson’. They were published in the f2kzine where writers got to showcase their work, and can now call themselves ‘published’ writers!

Dialogue isn’t as tricky as POV, or as vivid as the senses, but dialogue is just as important in a story as the plot/theme and the whole structure of the story! Next time you’re writing dialogue, make sure it isn’t being misconstrued, write it clear and concise.

Keep writing people! Most of all, Write Right!

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