Nancy's Books

Sunday, October 23, 2011

I often struggle with dialog and sometimes question if dialog is needed. Some picture books have no dialog at all, but as readers grow older, dialog is important to bring the character to life. Here are some tips to keep in mind as you write dialog in your stories.

“Said” is the preferred dialog tag. These tags are used after a character has spoken. Avoid other words such as declared, vowed, remarked, whispered, shouted, or bragged. Those words stand out and sometimes get in the way of the story. “Said” is used so much it has become invisible and the reader hardly notices it. Don’t be concerned that “said” is boring. Rev up the plot. That’s what grabs the reader’s interest.

Avoid using adverbs in dialog tags, such as she said excitedly. Show the excitement in the character’s action or words, rather than telling the reader.

The conversation should carry the story forward. If “Hello, how are you?” and “Fine, thank you,” doesn’t add to the plot or character development, leave it out. Cut the chit-chat.

When characters talk, make it meaningful. They should have a reason for talking rather than merely provide information to the reader. Straight question and answer sessions are usually dull and boring. In dialog, the characters should reveal themselves so the reader understands them better.

Next week, I’ll discuss more on dialog.

Contest for Adult Writers
Flash Fiction

For the Flash Fiction competition the top five entries will be selected by public vote, and the winning story chosen by the Judging Panel. To vote, individual must register on the Light Reading website. Each voter may vote for as many stories they wish, but can only cast one vote for each story. Any attempts by individual voters to vote multiple times for a single story, for example by registering with multiple email addresses may result in all their votes being disqualified. The use of robotic or automated devices for voting is strictly prohibited, and Diamond determines that this has been the case we reserve the right to disqualify both voter and contestant.
Details at

Contest for Young Writers
Jack And Jill
, P.O. Box 567, Indianapolis, IN 46206. Publishes stories, poems, riddles, and jokes written by students in grades 2-6.

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