Six impossible things

Posts Tagged dialog

Doing Dialog

One of the first tasks most writers face is improving their dialog. This seems to happen in stages. In my experience, beginners start by writing dialog the same way they write narrative, in long, formal, complex sentences without idioms or contractions. Characters frequently speak in paragraph-long speeches […]

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Writing basics: Dialog

Dialog is a balance of opposing forces. On the one hand, it’s supposed to be two or more people talking to each other, so it can be considerably less formal than most narrative; on the other hand, it’s not a transcription or recreation of an actual conversation, […]

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How it gets said #2: Punctuation

The workhorse of conveying tone and delivery within dialog is punctuation. Dialog certainly can follow the standard English rules for punctuation, but often it doesn’t. The differences are as much about leaving out “required” punctuation as they are about adding more or less of it than the […]

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How it gets said #1: Word choice and phrasing

The second aspect of dialog, after “what people are talking about,” is how they talk about it. This is where the technical aspects of dialog begin to come into play: word choice, phrasing, idiom, syntax, and punctuation. That’s enough that it’s going to take me more than […]

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What gets said

There are three things to consider when writing dialog: what is said, how it is said, and what the people in the conversation are doing while something is being said. Of the three, the one that seems to get the least attention in most how-to-write books is […]

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Dialog in general

Dialog is the little black dress of fiction. Almost every story includes some, and it’s not uncommon to find dialog occupying a large chunk of important scenes. Sometimes the entire scene, or even the whole story, is done in dialog (and I’m not counting plays or screenwriting). […]

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Sounding a Little Different

Apparently there’s some interest in techniques for crowd control, so I’ll address that next post. In this one, I want to continue talking about characters’ voices, and ways of making them different. First, a couple of examples of what I mean by “characters who have radically different […]

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Sounding Very Different

Characters, like people, are different from each other. They are different ages and genders; they come from different countries and levels of society; sometimes they even speak different languages, at least as their native tongues. This being so, they should by rights sound different from one another. […]

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Grammar, Syntax, and other Actual Rules

Spelling, grammar, punctuation, syntax. For a lot of would-be writers, they seem to be love ‘em or leave ‘em – which is to say, many of the folks I talk to have either an absolute slavish devotion to formal grammar, punctuation, or else a firm conviction that […]

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The other day, my walking buddy and I were discussing the use and misuse of slang in SF and fantasy. She was particularly exercised over an author whose entire repertoire of “future speak” seemed to consist of awkward and obvious portmanteau words like “carrocoli” for a hybrid […]

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