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Monday, April 23, 2007

Character dialogue

When your characters speak, worlds should move.

Well, okay, not that dramatic. But pretty darn close.

--Every word out of your character’s mouth has to mean something significant. Don’t let him or her say something that doesn’t have some kind of meaning, whether spoken or unspoken.

--Use double-entendres, also called cross-talk or subtexting. Let them say more than (or the opposite of) what’s actually said.

--“Dialogue is WAR.” Randy Ingermanson, Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine. This is totally true! Your characters should be at odds with each other every time they talk.

No, they don’t need to have shouting matches. However, they should each be fighting for or against each other in some other way. Fighting to keep a secret, fighting to get the other person to tell them something, fighting to know what to say, fighting to make themselves stop saying something. Conflict, conflict, conflict, baby!

--Don’t let their conversations just serve to reveal their personalities. The conversation has to somehow move the PLOT forward, too.

Conversations that are solely to show the reader the character’s thoughts or backstory or any other aspect of their personality only SLOW THE READING FLOW DOWN. The dialogue has to relate significantly toward the storyline and plot.

So look at your dialogue and make sure worlds are moving!

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