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Fluff in Dialogue

Jim asked another question:

The guidelines for eliminating fluff or fillers were very helpful. I learned a lot from them. (I know, I shouldn’t have used “a lot”. Having said that, do these same rules or guidelines apply to dialogue as they do with narrative? It appears that we can use unfinished or incomplete sentences, poor grammar, pauses, etc. in dialogue. Do we have the same exemption when it comes to fluff or filler words within dialogue?

As asked above, even if we are not bound by the same rules within dialogue, would it be better to still remove as many fluff words such as that, very, really, just, get, got, etc. as possible?


Camy here: In dialogue, it’s fine to have incomplete sentences, poor grammar, etc. But also be aware that dialogue in fiction isn’t really true dialogue—it’s kind of like the difference between a real mixed martial arts fight and a scripted fight on TV. The moves are all the same but on TV, the scripted fight is made to look prettier and flow better and be …

Q&A: Can Dialogue be Backstory Dumping?

It’s been a while, but I was finally cleaning out my Inbox and got a question from Jim. He wrote book one in a series aimed at 6-9 year olds, but he had a question about the second book in the series:

At this point, I used Book 2 to allow the child’s siblings to ask and receive answers about what he’s been doing the past 8 months. This was done via dialogue.

Would this be considered Backstory dumping when it’s a second book and responds to a different “now”. If it’s not considered “dumping”, would it still be preferable to eliminate the 6-8 chapters in book 2 and go with the “dribble” the backstory approach?


Camy here: Honestly, it’s entirely up to you. I’ve seen children’s books that have massive backstory dumps, and others where the backstory is more gradually inserted as the story goes along.

I’ve also seen books where the backstory is only briefly outlined. (For example: “Harry explained about how he got somehow entered into the Goblet of Fire and had to compete in dangerous tasks …