Writing good Dialog

Have you ever paid close attention to how normal conversation sounds? I’m not talking about the movies or TV or even professionals. I’m referring to ordinary people having ordinary talk sessions. Well, maybe not ordinary, but “characters.”

“Well, heck, I dunno, you know, maybe, if, and I ain’t sayin’ we should, but if we did, you know, go down to the, the bank and, you know, pull it off, I mean, what if say the thing goes off and the cops, you know, catch us well, we’re fucked.”

You wouldn’t write that as dialog in your book would you? Of course not. You would probably write something like: “Well, if we try to rob the bank and the cops catch us, we’re cooked.”

Characters in good books use reasonably good language. It is what readers are used to and what they expect. There are some “cute” so-called “experimental” stream of consciousness writers who think they can get away with scribbling the monstrosity I have outlined above.

Let me tell you – It doesn’t work. And it is not necessary for you to think you have to change the attributes every time someone says something. Readers are accustomed to “he said.” so much so that it goes right by them and their brain doesn’t even acknowledge it. But, if you get tired of “he said” and start using a variety of “he remarked” “she exclaimed” “he barked” “she screamed” “he blurted” “she purred” you are not only going to distract your reader, you are going to draw too much attention from WHAT is said to HOW it is said and that is annoying.

There is a fine writer I admire who uses “She said to me” or “He said to me” so much that it even annoys me and I love his prose. A simple “he said” gets the job done so the story can move along at a good pace. Don’t make it too complicated for your reader. In fact, I’m not sure a female CAN scream and talk at the same time. Well, perhaps my wife – but she’s different.


About johnbeckmanbooks

John Beckman, a retired meteorologist, was known as “Johnny the Weatherman” in a career that spanned forty years. He forecasted the weather on WSJS-TV in Winston-Salem, NC, at WFGA-TV in Jacksonville, FL, and for thirty-three years in Atlanta at WSB-TV and WXIA-TV. Also a well published author Beckman now devotes full time to writing fiction. He currently has several eBooks on Amazon.com, "Tropical Knights," first in a series of adventure/mysteries about a sailor and his lovely CIA cohort on a mission to save America. Now available the sequel, and second in the series: "Tropical Daze." The third Jack & Amy adventure is "Tropical Rage" which became available on 30 April 2014. All of his books are highlighted on http://johnbeckmanbooks.com and available from Amazon.com. . .
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