Tips on how and why to use dialogues

Readers normally want a fast paced book to get away from their mundane and pathetic life. They want to travel with your characters, not to be told what the character is doing. They want to be there with them or be them; to hurt with them, to smell the food and taste it with them, to see the morning sun go up and to feel the afternoon rain fall on their face.

What they usually don’t want is to fall asleep reading. (If they want to fall asleep reading, they can grab a textbook.)

What is one of your responsibilities as an author?

To keep the story moving at a good pace or you will lose your readers…forever, a huge no, no in our business.

So what keeps a story moving?

Dialogues is one excellent way. Most anything you need to say can be said in a dialog.

For example:

The description of a character can be use as part of your dialogue,

Barely parted red lips invited me for a kiss while her green eyes hungrily called my name.

The floor trembled with his giant steps and in one stride he overtook me.

Lets see if we can do the same with the description of a place.

The first time I saw the green river pass my way, its fast current carried more than leaves…

The swaying of the thin branches of the willow tree welcomed me from a hot day…

What about both, decryption of a character and a place together,

The green waters of Lake Sida rested between her long black lashes.

The foam of the cascade in front of my eyes painted his skin white as the moonlight

The midnight moon was trapped in her long wavy hair.

His skin glowed at the sight of the moon in contrast to the shadows covering the mountain side.

Describing a battle:

He can’t use the cannon against them…

…with a flourishing movement I took his sword away from his hand

The sure dance of his footsteps let me know he was no stranger to his weapons.

Now let’s just touch on what slows your story down… too much description all in the same place.  (Many usually skip over it, including me.)

Example:

He had green eyes and his black trench coat seamed short and dirty. His hand had cuts and bruises and finished in dirty fingernails. Black wavy hair fell long over his shoulders, looking soiled and unkempt. His pants must have belonged to his father and his slim body hadn’t filled in the gaps.

Per say, these are not too bad of descriptions, but when put all together they are too much. A better wording and using them in a dialogue would make it move faster and be more interesting.

For example:

Deep green eyes stared at me. “You’ve come a long way, haven’t you?” I asked.

“What would make you say that?” the man retorted.

“Your wet and ill fitting clothes tell a tale of a long difficult journey. The smell of smoke emanating from you doesn’t let one’s mind wander from that thought.”

“You would be right. I left home a year ago, after a fire destroyed my parents home. What you see on me is all it left behind.”

“You are in need of a good home-cooked meal and a bath…I can provide both,” I offered.

“I appreciate it, though a job would suite me better.”

In this example we can find out the same and even more information about the character but, in an interesting way. We not only hear the description, we also get a look to their personalities. This helps us be part of the scene, not a mere watcher.

Here is another idea of how to convey information in a interesting way,

In the past year they had barely talked because Tinel had taken his woman from him. Now, here they were in each other’s face and depending on each other for their very lives. Sman’s hate was great and Tinel knew it. His wife’s ex-boyfriend had kept away from Tinel for many years and it was fate that had placed the two men once again in each other’s life. They couldn’t be more different. While Tinel had money enough and then some, Sman still changed jobs every other month.

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In that scene we started with the narrator telling us everything that is going on. That is ok, however let’s look at what happens in a dialogue that transforms the same information into a vehicle that take us father along and deeper inside the characters.

“I am aware that you loved Amy and that you resent my intrusion,” stated Tinel.

“I hate you for taking her away from me,” Sman cried.

“I understand your feelings, but if we are going to make it out of here alive, you’ll have to help me and I you. Our differences will have to wait until we are safe again.”

“Why? If you die I will have her for me,” Sman spat.

“Why do you think she chose me?” Tinel asked.

“Because you have more money than me,” Sman bowed his head.

“You are wrong there. She chose me because I had a steady job and she likes security.”

“I always have a job and she would have never gone hungry…”

“No, but she would always worry about where the next paycheck’s coming from. And for that same reason you still wouldn’t get her, even if I was gone.”

Did you notice the difference? Which way do you think your readers will enjoy most? Go back to your draft and see how much of your text and descriptions you can transform into a conversation, instead of a narration.

Now go, and happy writings to you…

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