Thursday, April 8, 2010

Writing Dialogue

   "Do you write good dialogue?" Maybelle asked.            
   "Of course I do," Hubert said. 
   Maybelle squinted. "Are you sure?"
   "Yes, I am," Hubert huffed. "Why do you ask?"

How do you feel about writing dialogue? Love it? Hate it? Not sure how to do it?

Laura Pauling's recent post offers help. Entitled Questions to Ask Before Cutting/Adding Dialogue, it outlines ten points to consider when writing dialogue. It's a great listing of advice and ways to enhance and self edit dialogue. Laura also invites readers to share their dialogue hang ups and solutions.

My favorite is point 9, not because the contributor and I share a first name, but because it asks something I remind my writing students to consider. What is it? It discusses the overuse of exclamation points in dialogue. This is a pet peeve of mine, not just in dialogue, but in all writing. Too many of them dilute our intended point and make our writing weaker. Ah, I could go on...perhaps I'll save that for another post...

Laura's got me curious now; I'm interested in hearing what dialogue tips you have, and what challenges you find (or not) when writing dialogue. Please share, and don't forget to hop over to Laura's blog too.

For bonus brownie points, rewrite the dialogue above. No real brownies are at stake, but surely you can make Maybelle and Hubert's exchange sparkle more brightly than I did.

Happy weekend and happy writing:).


  1. I just love the picture. Some day that will be me.... :O)

  2. Thanks, Karen. I appreciate how you encourage other writers by sharing the helpful articles you find.

    The picture is great, too.


  3. Hi Karen -

    Thanks for the link. Here goes.

    Maybelle finished writing with a flourish. She held up her paper and admired her work. "Hubert, do you write good dialogue?"

    His brow furrowed. "Why do you ask?"

    She waved off his question. "I'd be happy to give you some pointers."

    Hubert slammed his pen on the table. "That's it. Just because you got an A+ on your short story and I bombed out doesn't make you a big shot."

    Tears spilled down her cheeks. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean it that way. Can we start this conversation over?"

    LOL! I couldn't resist adding some conflict. :)


  4. Gosh, Thanks Karen for linking to my blog!!

  5. Diane,
    Somehow I suspect you will be decked out stylishly while bantering about good dialogue. :)

    You're welcome. I love to share goodies that I find. This picture fit the bill, I thought.

    Susan R.,
    Fabulous rewrite! You're hired:) Great conflict. I suspected Maybelle might be a drama queen.

    You are welcome. It was a great post:)

    Thanks and blessings to you all,

  6. I have to admit sometimes dialogue feels awkard when I write it. Maybe it's all the tags? i try not to use it.

  7. Hi T. Anne,
    Tags get me confused sometimes, and I sometimes need to check a guide to make sure I got them right! Thanks for coming by,

  8. That is THE coolest picture.

    I messed around with rewriting and didn't think it was that bad except rather than the tag I would have Maybelle act in some way.

    LOVE this blog.

  9. I love writing dialogue. I'm excited to read the post, though, because I'm on the lookout for good tips.

  10. Patti,
    I love the picture. It just fit somehow. Yes, perhaps we could have Maybelle throw something at Hubert..?

    Maybe we should have you give us some tips!

    Glad you both decided to stop by.
    Thanks and blessings,

  11. Karen:
    I've bookmarked the website. And I have copied the dialogue to look at later.
    I learned something about punctuation and dialogue last night at Writing Group.
    I'll get back here and post more about my lesson later.

  12. I like how you share your finds, Karen. Sign of a great teacher.

    As a reader mainly, this post made me think of when I am totally drawn into a dialogue. Answer: I don't really know. I guessed it's like real life, I switch off if the conversation is repetitive and without depth.

    I am going to have a look at the website.

    Take care. xxx

  13. Cecelia,
    By all means, share the tips with us. That would be wonderful.

    You make a great point. It does have to be real. I know I don't want to read it if it is, as Emily Benedict says,'cardboard like'.

    Blessings to you, my dear friends,

  14. Oh I love what susan did with the dialogue!! Perfect! oops, I promise I only use exclamation points in emails:))

  15. Very cute picture, and dialogue to go with it!

    Dialogue is one of my favorite things about longer works of fiction, because it can lend so much to the characters.

    Thanks for visiting my blog! I see we have many of the same connections, and it's great to "meet." :)

  16. Helpful post, thanks. I write dialog, but it is always short. My chapters in my book are all small - about 600 words, so any dialog is brief. But I need to learn more, so thanks. wb

  17. Great post, Karen! I've learned a lot about dialogue and inserting beats instead of tags, etc. I used to go overboard on the adverbs. It makes me shiver thinking about it.
    I loved Susan's example!

  18. Terri,
    You're too funny! Exclamation points in emails and blog comments don't count:)

    Thank you for coming by!

    I loved this picture and thought it would be great for this. I agree, good dialogue adds so much.

    Glad to offer helpful links. I'm always learning and like to pass things on. Glad you stopped by.

    I know, adverbs can be useful, and not. I have been more aware of them lately too.

    Thanks to all for stopping by!


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!