Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's a Noun, It's a Verb . . . It's Di-a-logue

Dialogue: now there's a word that strikes fear into the hearts of fiction writers - well maybe not all fiction writers, but a lot of them, and me for sure.

I'm talking about dialogue as a noun. "Wow! That's realistic dialogue you used in your story," not as a verb as in "Let's dialogue about that." In contests I've judged, some writers have a good ear for dialogue, others struggle. I took me awhile to write dialogue that sounds like a real conversation, but I think I've finally grasped the concept and recognize good dialogue.

The other day I was excited to read a post on Janet Fitch's blog, "A Few Thoughts About Dialogue." I've read a lot of advice about writing dialogue, but one of Janet's comments hit me like a bolt of lightning. Sorry for the cliche, but I have lightning on my mind after the thunderstorm that whipped through this morning around three a.m. and caused me to bolt from my bed.

Back to dialogue. Here's what caught my attention: "Dialogue is only for conflict." That makes total sense. Other helpful suggestions from Janet are: keep it short, no meet and greet, and gestures are as important as what is said. Click here to read the complete post.

Other cool features on Janet's blog are her word stories and exercises, where she creates short, short stories using a word as a prompt. Very creative and challenging! Check it out and be amazed.

P.S. Tomorrow I will have a post from a guest blogger. Cindy Allen is a poet, a pilot, a polo player, and a pioneer. She is a board member of Saturday Writers who judged one of our monthly contests using a strawberry pie recipe. So, I hope you'll visit tomorrow to see what Cindy has to say.

P.P. S. The Cards redeemed themselves by winning 8-3 last night, so I'm in a double good mood today. Since they scored at least six runs it means drinks for a quarter at Mobil on the Run. The grandkiddos love their slushies!


  1. Great advice, great resource, great post. Thanks.

  2. Thanks, Donna. I'll definitely check all that out! That's good news for me, too, about dialogue, since I tend to not write much of it! :D
    Also, I listened to some of the Cards' game last night on my little transistor, when the power was out. Took me back to the OLD days!! :-)

  3. Donna, did you do the"p" words on purpose about Cindy: polo player, pioneer, pilot, and poet (smiles)

  4. Hi Tammy,
    Thanks. Janet's blog is a great resource.

  5. I checked out Janet's blog. You're right---she challenges herself and is quite creative. The advice about writing dialogue is great. Thanks for sharing...(Your comment about the storm explained why there were so many tree branches---some of them large---in our backyard. My snoring drowns out every other noise in the neighborhood, so I slept right throught the storm.)

  6. Thanks for the link Donna. I have never heard the "dialogue is only for conflict" directive, but now that I see it, it seems obvious. I need to make a sticky note and put it on my laptop!

  7. Great suggestion! I enjoyed checking out the link. Go Cards!


  8. Great post and links, Donna. I love writing dialogue, and if I had to pick my writing strength dialogue would definitely be it. One tip I would add is to read your dialogue aloud - you'll soon notice what isn't working, because it will sound awkward.

  9. Hi Becky,
    You are welcome.

    And Barbara,
    The p's were intentional. Since Cindy is a poet, I thought it would be appropriate.

  10. Hi Sue,
    You are welcome. Yep. We got slammed by the storms.

    Hi Lisa,
    Janet's comment about conflict and dialogue got my attention.

  11. Hi Pat,
    Yep--go Cards!

    Hi Ellie,
    That's a great tip. Reading one's work out loud not only finds glitches in dialogue, but also in narrative.


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