Breakout session 2: Evoking the scene: effective dialogue for writers

Julia Quinn – Evoking the scene:  effective dialogue for writers

Dialogue affects every asplect of your manuscript from voice to characterisation, pacing to point of view

Dialogue has two parts:  how you speak and what you say

– We are not writing screenplays, we are writing novels
– Placement of tag lines can depict who is speaking, emotion involved, mood etc
– if you only used ‘said’ or ‘asked’, then you need to add more descriptive words to explain the mood
eg breathed, ventured, muttered

– adverbs may not be your friend
– however there is no reason they can’t be your casual acquaintance
– can use ‘sneaky tag lines’ to get a mood across
eg ‘his tone was dead’

Action tags
– shows what character is doing, thinking or how another character perceives them
– eg ‘the muscles in his back went rigid’ rather than ‘go away, he said tensely’

Do not have one character speaking and another character carrying out an action in the same paragraph.
Each character gets their own paragraph – that includes actions as well as dialogue
The first person mentioned after your speech should be the person who was talking

Don’t info dump
– find creative ways to share information with your readers
– create speech patterns for your characters, but make it unique – don’t give the same speech pattern to another character
eg starting a sentence with ‘well’ , ‘so’, ‘umm’ etc

Interrupting a sentence:
em dash – indicates an abrupt interruption, close quotes
new paragraph – em dash – open quotes “poke you”

An ellipse (…) indicates a trailing off rather than an abrupt interruption

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