View Full Version : Dialogue Pointer, Tips, Rules?

06-05-2007, 06:56 AM
I am in the midst of adding more dialogue in my memoir. I have research notes and tape recorded interviews gathered over several years in preparation for this writing, but must also recreate some dialogue from memory or to create the feelings of the scenes I am conveying. Does anyone have any dialogue tips, rules or pointers? As either an editer or a memoir or other non-fiction reader, what are your dialogue turn-ons and turn-offs? What pulls you into the reading, vs what distracts you or interrupts your absorbtion? Any suggestions would be appreciated.

06-05-2007, 10:23 PM
For Non-fiction? Same as fiction,I would guess. It should be believable and readable, have relevance to the accompanying narrative and help drive things forward to whatever conclusion awaits.

That seems a dumb response, but I must confess to being stumped as to what is sought by the question, since dialogue is obviously already being used.

06-07-2007, 04:19 AM
HI Bufty, I don't know what you mean by "I must confess to being stumped as to what is sought by the question, since dialogue is obviously already being used." Did you say this because I said I have notes and interviews? If that's what you meant, I would not use them verbatim. I would try to create interesting dialogue from them.

A little surprised at the lack of responses here. I asked this identical question on another writer's board I am a part of and I've gotten dozens of tips and pointers in response, such as:
1. Never use a verb other than “said” to carry dialogue
2. Never use an adverb to modify the verb “said” . . .
3. Keep your exclamation points under control.
4. Use regional dialect, patois, sparingly.

Usually members of this site are so much more verbal! And that's OK, just a little surprising.

06-07-2007, 05:16 AM
Pick a few books with dialogue that you have particularly enjoyed and study the way they handle the dialogue. How many tags, where breaks come, etc. Actually seeing how it's done, when it's done well, is the best way to learn I believe.

06-07-2007, 05:23 AM
I get impatient if the dialogue sequence is too long and if there aren't sufficient "said"s to accompany the sentences.

06-07-2007, 06:11 AM
Don't use dialogue for long explainations because it makes the reader read slower, which is boring. I'm not sure why this is, exactly, but if you look in some books and read long passages of dialogue vs. long passages of narrative you'll find that the narrative is smoother and quicker, thus more interesting.

Also, don't write what people say. Speech is littered with incomplete sentences, interjections, etc. These are fine in dialogue when used right, but don't just write down what someone says.

I don't know what you're writing, but sometimes it's nice if specific characters have certain idiosyncracies in their dialogue. The best example is someone who says "dude" a lot when talking to people. It ads character and can help in distinguishing between different speakers.

06-07-2007, 09:09 AM
Whenever you write dialogue, read it out loud to yourself. Does it sound like something a real person would say? Or does it sound canned, fake, or perfect? When I say perfect, I mean does it sound like something an English professor would say (because, unless your character is an English professor, he/she probably shouldn't talk like one, it's just not natural.)