Friday, February 27, 2015

Sometimes Subtlety Is The Best Policy

As Writers we all strive for richness in our manuscripts. We long for the reader to "get" what our characters are saying, without actually saying it. To add to their personalities without spelling it all out in dialog. But we tend to listen to our teachers and coaches how we need to explain all through the dialog of our characters.

Sometimes I think you can do that without every detail. Your readers will understand. If you spell out everything they're thinking in the dialog, you've left nothing to the imagination of the reader. 

Subtlety can be achieved through the actions of the character, as well as sometimes saying nothing at all, only a wink, or an eyebrow raise can tell the reader what is really going on inside the head of that particular character. If you spell it all out for them, it leaves nothing to imagination and is boring.

Humans never say everything that's on their mind. We have body signals that we send to our partners, friends, and family who know us. We don't talk or think that way, so neither should your characters to be believable.

Try to really "see" the relationship between two of your characters, maybe two best friends. As they're discussing something with, say the nemesis, they certainly wouldn't give all information. They would help each other, maybe a lie, or to hide something, and they would do it with a look, a nod, a subtle hint between the two of them.

Or maybe two family members, a father and son. These two would definitely know each other and not all would need to be said.

Although, there are times when you need to spell it out, such as a speech, or plan unfolding. But to understand the way people really think and act is what is really needed to bring out the richness in the story. 

There are times you need to spell it all out, and there are times the character should just shut up. 

Well, my muse for the day. I hope it helps you to think about your characters and dialog as you pound away on the keys. 

Have a great week everyone! See you next Friday!

Love, Lisa


  1. Wow. You are so amazing. Great post, and advice. Very intelligibly written. Good read. Blessings.

  2. Thanks Johnny! And thanks for being such a supportive writer friend! I appreciate you!