Affiliate Disclosure

This site may be affiliated with some products recommended for monetary gain. This means when a link is clicked, and a purchase is made, this site makes a commission off the sale. This site has chosen to only recommend products that will benefit the buyer.

UserOnline

1 User Browsing This Page.
Users: %GUESTS_SEPERATOR%1 Guest%BOTS_SEPERATOR%
Share On Your Favourite Social Platform and Spread The Word

Dialogue As Its Meant To Be Read

Published November 22, 2009 in Help For Writers - 0 Comments

Have you ever put down a book because you couldn’t stand having to reread over and over again. I find that the most parts I have to reread are the dialog lines. It is vitally important to let your reader know what is happening to your characters as it is happening.

Reading:

“You think so,” he said angrily.

Might have the reader reading “You think so” as a question. It might have them reading it mildly. Then they will see “he said angrily” and realize they were suppose to read “You think so” angrily. This causes them to go back and reread. It is best to let the reader know how to read the dialog before or as they read it, not after.

For full effect it would be better to say for instance:

“YOU THINK SO!” He said angrily, “You think so!”

Or

Angrily he yelled at her; her heart trembling, “You think so!”

This allows the reader to know what is happening with the dialogue. They don’t have to go back and read it again because they know before and during that the dialogue is supposed to be angry.

Look at the following:

“You think so,” he said

This sentence is all right because there is no anger. It is just a simple statement.
There are different ways to show emotion before or as you write dialog. I will show you a few methods.

1. Directly in dialog:

“I am sad that your mother died.”

This shows that the speaker is sad about the death of someone else mother. There is no need to write:

Sadly he said, ” I am sad that your mother died.”

Because it is obvious that the speaker is sad. He said it himself.
Now if for instance if the speaker was saying the words with anger, like in an argument and it’s important for the reader to know it’s in anger, then that’s when you would add more information before the dialogue.

2. Tag line before dialog:

Take this conversation:

“My mother is dead; you don’t understand my pain.”
“I know your mother is dead,” he said, weeping with his friend.

The second dialog text says he weeps with his friend, but after he talks. The reader could read it blandly, then realize after that he wept. They would have to go back and read it as the person crying.

It is better to write the sentence as:

Weeping he wiped his face with his shirt sleeve. “I know your mother is dead.”

You could even add more to evoke more emotion such as:

Weeping he wiped his face with his shirt sleeve. “I know your mother is dead and I will weep with you until you yourself are done.”

This is mixing the first method with the second.

3.Capitalization and the exclamation mark!

You don’t want to use these a lot as it will start to bland your writing. But if emotion is very strong it is well to use them.

Take the sentence:

“I will rip your heart out with a fork.”

Now we all can see the speaker is very angry… but is he. He could be joking with a friend. You can’t really tell positively if the speaker is angry.

We assume he is angry, and in context with the rest of your story, we can usually tell what is happening. What we want, though, is emotion.

So take a look at the sentence with capitalization and an exclamation work:

“I WILL RIP YOUR HEART OUT WITH A FORK!”

This can work, but use it sparingly. If used a lot it will look idiotic on the page. Also, only use capitalization when your speaker is actually yelling. Say your speaker is a Sargent yelling at military trainees. Then you might want to use capitalization in their dialog. Make sure to add the exclamation mark. It looks better then having capitalization, then a short bland little dot at the end. You want the words to stand out on the page because they show great emotion.

The sentence might look better as:

She clenched her fists, tensed her body, and threatened him deafeningly, “I will rip your heart out with a fork!”

Just an exclamation mark doesn’t look so weird and still gets the point across. Make sure however that if your speaker is yelling you state that, and before the actual dialog. Remember, unlike the capitalization which state the speaker as yelling, the exclamation mark can be used to express joy and other emotions of great intensity.

You can still evoke more emotion. Try adding a middle tag and an exclamation mark.

“I will rip your heart,” a growl entered his throat, “out with a fork!”

For longer sentences I recommend the middle tag line shown above. Remember though that the sentence above is showing the growl entering the throat through the middle of his speech. If he was growling it out at the beginning, make sure to mention that. For shorter sentences the exclamation mark or capitalization- used sparingly- are good to use.

So lets recap the different methods I have shown you:

There is:

1. Directly in dialog:
“I am sad that your mother died.”

2. Tag line before dialog:
Weeping he wiped his face with his shirt sleeve. “I know your mother is dead.”

A mix between 1 and 2:
Weeping he wiped his face with his shirt sleeve. “I know your mother is dead and I will weep with you until you yourself are done.”

3.Capitalization and the exclamation mark!
“I WILL RIP YOUR HEART OUT WITH A FORK!”
She clenched her fists, tensed her body, and threatened him deafeningly, “I will rip your heart out with a fork!”
“I will rip your heart,” a growl entered his throat, “out with a fork!”

These are just three basic methods that can come in handy in your writing. Though there are hundreds, if not thousands, of different ways to get your dialog across. The point of this article though is to remind writers to make sure their readers will be reading the dialog as it is meant to be read the first time through. You can mix and mash the methods I have shown you to express more emotion, and get your dialog across to your readers effectively. Of course there are different ways to do everything. I also note that when reading to yourself, and not out loud, your mind tends to skip past everything I have shown you here. So read your work out loud. You will see more errors and things that need changing that way.

Now you are wondering: “How do you expect me to go through my whole story and pick out every piece of dialog?”
Well here is another method I use which helps me. It is impossible to miss any dialog this way unless you do it half asleep- then I recommend a good nap before you do any more writing.

What I do is read my story out loud into a microphone which records my story out on a computer. Why does this work.

Well, unlike reading in your head, reading out loud actually helps you to hear your story and speaker. I find I not only can hear the dialog, but I find every little mistake in my manuscript there is. You mind has to work and listen to the words before it registers them. When reading in your head the story skims in and creates the picture. When listening to the story you have to decipher the words into your mind, therefore picking out ever little mistake you make when reading.

While you edit, listen to the recording of your story. You will find were you hesitate, where you stumble, where you misread a word. You find, the focus of this article, the dialog mistakes. I will read a dialog line mildly, only to read, out loud, that it was to be read angrily. I pick this up in the recording, and Wala! I now know where to fix my dialog.

Recording yourself helps you to find slow parts in your story. Find wordy parts that can be reduced to fit the flow of your voice. Find the boring parts you need to fix. Find the awkward mentioned dialog.

The recording program I use is Audacity. You can find it at http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ . It is free and extremely professional- I think. I recommend it full heartedly.

And if you are shy, like me, about talking to yourself in public or private, well fight it off dude. You want to be a writer, fight for it. That is the only way any of us are going to achieve our dreams.

Fight for it and you will get published, one hundred percent guaranteed. Some people just have to fight longer then others.

No comments yet