Speaking of Talking about Dialogue….

As I was working on my two large writing projects going on right now, I noticed something. Both of them had gone into heavy dialogue mode. Each has two of the main characters, discussing matters concern the plot, back and forth between each other with maybe a little description thrown in. When this happens (and especially with two different projects at once), it makes me nervous. Now, I’ve read a lot of really good stories that use dialogue expertly; some have been entirely dialogue and nothing else, and I’m always impressed by the author’s ability to weave dialogue so well. However, I’m not entirely sure I’m one of those dialogue writers. I’m always concerned that my dialogue doesn’t sound realistic enough and, especially in the current cases, that it’s building up far too much exposition, both things a writer is always striving to avoid.

Naturally, that got me thinking about what other writers might think about dialogue. Do you try to avoid using it in excess? Or maybe you absolutely love dialogue and use it as much as you can. As reader or writer or both, do you feel that it’s an effective way of moving the plot along, or is revealing details through dialogue a cop out? I’m sure any of these questions could be answered with a typical, “Well, it depends on how you’re using it,” which is true.

Mostly, I’m trying not to worry about it and just let the dialogue flow. That’s what we have editing for. At the beginning of a book, I think slightly epositionary dialogue can be par for the course; I’ll get it over and done with and then onto the main story.


One comment

  1. I’m somebody that can’t stand info-dumps through dialogue, but still end up trying to use dialogue as a device through which to convey information from one character to another. So I use games as an excuse and letters between characters and and information as prizes and as business. Everything’s just sort of played straight, I guess. In a sort of backwards way.

    I’m also like you, I think, in the sense that I’m not entirely sure that I’m one of those dialogue writers, but still try not to worry about it and just let it flow.

    I’d avoid expository dialogue in the beginning as much as you can. It’s something that sort of slows down the narrative and the beginning’s where most potential readers drop. Plus, characters probably won’t rehash information they already know. To imply it is like…giving a puzzle for the readers to solve. You just have to remember to give them all the pieces and nudge them from time to time through foreshadowing and just carefully placed hints.

    I love it when there’s implications, but when nothing’s ever quite said, especially in the beginning. It’s like a guessing game and the only way to know you’re right is to keep trudging on. The flip side is that it can get too confusing and also make the reader want to drop the book.

    Another side of expository dialogue is that it’s fantastic to help you, as a writer, figure out what’s going on if you don’t know it already, like if you’re pantsing, and you could always take it out later. Like you said, that’s what we have editing for. 😉

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