Sunday, May 10, 2009

May Mania ~ Stretch #10

Dialogue is the main component that drives a story forward. It is also used to reveal character and unfurl conflicts. Yet writers are often guilty of talking -heads syndrome. This faux pas runs much deeper than simply having two people volley statements back and forth without actions; it's about the absence of true character. It's spoken words falling flat, going nowhere, revealing little.

I read a book recently and all the characters sounded the same and the dialogue ran in unnatural chunks rather than as seemingly true conversation. Don't let your dialogue smother itself with the deadweight of nothingness. Have a point. Sharpen those dialogue skills.

Write a story that is made up ENTIRELY OF DIALOGUE, in 500 words or less. Skip dialogue tags, actions and modifiers of any kind. Your dialogue-only piece must reveal something about the characters, the setting and the conflict/plot. Work hard at giving your characters distinct voices. You can express actions through dialoge too. "What are you doing? Put me down, John! I am not a child." Really stretch to express as much of the scene as possible.

This exercise will get you to think outside the box to expose a solid piece through tone and voice. I know a woman who wrote an entire novel this way, so a simple exercise could shift your experiment into a greater artisitc treasure.

~ Signing off and sending out cyber hugs.


  1. An exercise similar to this is how my novel came to life. My wife wouldn't let it die, kept encouraging me to go farther, until finally, an exercise in dialog took on a life of its own and became a full-length book.

    You never know.

  2. Wow! Thanks for sharing, Darc. Good luck with your book.

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