Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How Do Your Characters Talk?

We had a great creative writing class this last Sunday. Our group has grown to 11 people, 2 of which are teenagers, which is a great challenge for us and hopefully will help all of us reach for deeper learning. 

Teaching kids to understand brings us to the basics and a more detailed way of learning so I look forward to the challenge.

Next class it is my turn to teach a subject, (three of us are discussing the skills and take turns) and I thought it was time for some grammar, but one of the ladies asked for a lesson in dialog.

This skill has been one of my stronger suits in writing. Although we did have to research the way kids talk today and found some great sites. But dialog is what moves your story along. It gives the information that you need, if it's done properly and with flow.

One of the first mistakes new writers make is telling the story using a lot of info dump as apposed to using the dialog to get your information across. The info dump does not move it along, but bores the reader, well, because the reader really doesn't care.

Your dialog needs to sound authentic, too. If you have a teen in your book, you need to find out how teens communicate with each other and adults. If you have a book written in the past, you need to research how they talked in the time-frame your writing in. 

If you have a made-up world, like we do, you need to decide how you want them to communicate with each other, and if there is another language involved. Would another world's language be english? 

Accents are another issue. If it is a strong accent, do you want to write the character's accent constantly, or leave it out? Will it feel real if it's left out?

The next issue is listening the way people communicate. Do they always finish their sentences?

Do they usually talk in paragraphs or should you break it up? Most people, unless they are telling a story, don't speak non-stop, they tend to pause, take a drink, pace, whatever you decide to give a break in the dialog. 

Action is another place you don't want to add too much internal thought. Their minds will be on what they're dealing with, not what they are thinking about the person involved, or what they're wearing, so this is not the place to add a bunch of information. You need to keep the tension and continuing with stuff that's not pertinent to the scene slows it down.

So, needless to say, this next class will be a longer one. There is a lot to talk about when it comes to dialog. It might end up being the only subject.

Just curious if any of you writers need help with this skill? Is this something you would like more detailed discussions over? Let me know.

Until Friday, have a fantastic week and don't forget my giveaway on here. Not only will you get a copy of Fable, but also our new release Fated!

Love, Lisa


  1. Hmmm. Dahlink, I seenk you need to eemplement zome ov your own suggestions. Perhaaps, zho, not as extreeeme as I haf vritten here. :)

    Character voice ees indeed deefeecult to achieve. I am lovink your information und books. Dahlink. I zound like my old German grossmutter. :) But pleeze do not write dis way. I vill hate it, I tell you.

    1. LOL! you are too funny! I laughed out loud at some of your comments on Fated! thanks for getting it back to us so quickly, we are running out of time to have it ready for xmas.

    2. :) I try to take the sting out of the red ink by being humorous. I'm glad you enjoyed them! :) And will you be doing that research I suggested?? :D

    3. I don't remember what the research part was. I'm sure we will look into it whatever it was. We always do! ;-)