Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Dialogue: Let's be real.

Nothing turns me off a story more than poor dialogue. It has to sound real. When reading a story (be it a partial submitted here or a published novel) I can forgive the author for a lot of things. If the dialogue is unconvincing, it is very hard to win me back.

Let’s be clear. Things that make me cringe:

-dialogue that is obviously only used to explain something to the reader. Authors often don’t give the reader enough credit. The reader is smart. The reader can figure it out. The reader also knows when dialogue is contrived, not to portray a conversation between characters, but to spell something out. That’s not to say you should never use dialogue to explain something—used correctly, this can be a great tool. But you have to do it subtly.

For example, the WRONG way to set up a situation:

“Josh and Mary are together again. I don’t think that’s going to work. He cheated on her before and people don’t really change.”

“I think you’re right. Mary is too dependent on him, too. She’s only going to end up in trouble again.”

A better way to say this could go something like:

“Mary’s back with Josh.”

“Seriously? God, I thought she was rid of him.”

“I know, me too. I swear, he smiles and she goes running back.”

People’s thoughts on a subject can be just as (or more) informative than straight information. In the second example, we already know the speakers don’t like Josh, and that Mary is infatuated. We don’t need all the information at once; it can come out later that they were separated because he cheated.

-being too formal. Specifically, the absence of contractions. This one really gets to me. Use contractions! When people talk, they use contractions (unless there is a specific reason for them not to—if they learned English as a second language, for example). If it’s a really formal setting, that’s fine. But in day to day speech, people do not say things like “We would love it if you would come. We will wait for you so that you do not get lost.” Instead, say something like “We’d love for you to come. We’ll wait for you so you don’t get lost.” It’s a simple thing, but it makes a huge difference.

There are more, of course, but those are two big ones and this post is getting long. So before you send your baby out for other people to judge, go back to the dialogue. I know it’s hard to be objective, but try to imagine the conversation outside of the story. Could you hear two of your friends having the conversation? Two random people on the street? If not, the reader probably can’t hear the characters having it, and it’s going to disrupt your story. The story you've slaved over deserves better than to be dismissed because of awkward dialogue.

Good luck!


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

New Release: Just for the Night by Tawny Weber

Power outages happen, and you have to be somewhere—like in an empty store—with your ex. Who is still irresistible. And hot. And who knows how to make the most out of a dark situation….

Checklist for: Larissa Zahn

☑ Food

☑ Water

☑ First aid kit (With condoms. Be prepared. Very, very prepared.)

☑ Someone you're still overwhelmingly into (Jason Cantrell, I'm looking at you.)

☑ Plenty of time in the dark (Read: hot nookie. Lots of it.)

❑ The ability to walk away without regrets in the morning…. (Uh-oh!)

Intrigued? Then check out Tawny Weber's latest steamy romance in the Harlequin Blaze line, Just for the Night. You can pick up a copy today at your favorite bookstore.