Our heroine read recently that approximately 50% of your novel should be dialogue, dear Reader. There was a bit of dialogue about it when it appeared on Twitter. Not all agreed.
Still, it got me thinking. Did my novel have enough? More importantly, was it any good? I decided to seek guidance on the intarnetz, which is how these columns come about. As I seek, so shall ye find, and all that. These are the top articles I found:
Ask the Publishing Guru posted Sharon Lipincott’s Tips for Writing Effective Dialogue. She gives five great points that really hit on why dialogue is so important and how to do it well. Her view is that dialogue breathes life into characters. I agree with this wholeheartedly, which is why I’ve done this research. I’m eager to find not only my voice, but the voice of each character.
C. Patrick Schulze‘s This Business of Writing has an article entitled, not surprisingly, Tips for Writing Effective Dialogue. Despite the repeat in title, this is not just a repeat of the above points. It’s a deeper, more thorough look at how to use dialogue. Do take a look at this one for points beyond simple dialogue issues.
The irrepressible Shannon Delany (of the Fast Drafting interview in Plotting) has an article in her blog, 13 to Life, Oh-Em-Gee: Why We Don’t Write Dialogue Like We Talk dated November 11, 2009. (If necessary, scroll down to the dated article.) It’s a fun look at this subject. Don’t let the fun tone fool you, though. There are important nuggets of education in this posting.
Dialogue is central to creating a good novel, in my humble. It’s an important part of Show, Don’t Tell. It demonstrates your characters and their individual personalities, their voices. Dialogue is crucial to a good novel.
Try practicing listening to others in your life and take some notes. I like parking in a coffee shop with my ears open. You’ll hear quickly how differently people express themselves, even those in the same conversation.
It can be a challenge keeping your characters from sounding the same. By using the tips above and the notes here, you can create better characters and ultimately a better novel.