Presentation on theme: "How to Use Dialogue in Fiction Four Purposes. Use dialogue carefully and it will serve different purposes: Develop character Create story background Add."— Presentation transcript:
Use dialogue carefully and it will serve different purposes: Develop character Create story background Add to the plot Pace the story
On the surface, dialogue provides white space on the page, breaking up long blocks of text, and generally makes a story more enjoyable to read. Characters can simply converse pleasantly, or dialogue can actually make the story grow.
Dialogue Develops Characters Let your characters use everyday language, talking about everyday things, and you risk either boring your reader or having all your characters blend into one. Your character’s speech can reveal things about him or her. Instead of “How are you,” try “Whazzup?” or “Pleased to meet you, ma’am.”
Dialogue Tells Backstory You never want to have a character say, “You know, Bob, if Dad hadn’t deserted us four years ago, Mom wouldn’t have had to work two jobs and maybe you could have gone to med school since, as you undoubtedly remember, you’ve wanted to be a doctor since you were six.” Never, repeat, never have your characters tell each other something they already know, just for the sake of the reader finding out. With that caveat, backstory can be much more fluid if told in dialogue. Instead of explaining it in narrative, can Bob complain to a new girlfriend that he never got to go to med school? Can the brother, filled with anger and resentment, confront his father unexpectedly? What if the mom, watching her sons slide into dead- end jobs, gets drunk and rants at the bartender?
Dialogue Carries Plot The plot moves your story forward to its resolution. Sometimes this is best developed by narrative action, but often dialogue can be put to good use here, either advancing the plot itself or assisting the narrative. Dialogue is great for developing plot twists. One murder suspect can accuse another, sending investigators off on a tangent. An old friend can return to town, revealing unknown events in the protagonist’s past. An argument can send one person out in anger, only to be hit by a drunk driver. And because a story is about people more than events, all of these interactions lead to character growth and development. What would happen if the above mother was feeling guilty, and let it all out to her sons instead of the bartender. How would they react? What would the tension be like between them the next day? Where would your plot go from here?
Dialogue Controls Pace Just as an action movie jumps from crisis to crisis, leaving viewers breathless, a hectic story with no breaks can wear readers out. Use dialogue for variety and to control the pace of the story. Witty repartee provides comic relief. A relaxed conversation slows the pace of a thriller. An argument staged in short, harsh sentences raises the tension in a romance or family saga.
Use Dialogue Well in Your Fiction These four broad uses of dialogue can be expanded or refined to meet the needs of your own story. And if you write dialogue realistically and purposefully, your story will be richer for it.