Dialogue Notes

People be talking, yo!

Not a lot of time to blog today – I’ve got to get caught up on some work this weekend, and I’m going through paperwork as we pack for out house move in a couple of weeks.

I’m the process of going through said paperwork, though, I came across my notes from the various creative writing courses I took at Washington University. While most of the notes are either utterly obvious or incomprehensible (or, more often, both), I did find a page of notes on dialogue that was interesting. This is a complete, word-for-word transcription of what I wrote down, including missing words, misspellings, and bad punctuation (I scribbled this down during a lecture).

  • Dialogue reveals character, emotion between characters
  • Short, pointed, and loaded
  • Warn overture will be met with a cool response, both in dialogue and between writer and reader. If you’re cold to the characters, the reader warms up
  • Dialogue needs tension
  • Dialogue often has a subtext to what is really going on.
  • Each character has a secret they do and do not want to reveal
  • Tend to be guarded instead of saying what we mean, just like politeness to mask anger. That masked emotion can mask a different emotion.
  • Most people don’t listen when the other is speaking.
  • Don’t do narration in dialog. (No plot exposition!)
  • Dialogue ties (“he said/she said”) Usually you want to hide these. If you use these to express thoughts, stick to one. Can be put in the middle. Instead of a tag, use a gesture.

Other Articles You Might Like:

Watson is Not an Idiot

Please support my work by buying one of my products!

Watson Is Not An Idiot is available from all good bookstores including Amazon USA, Amazon UK, Waterstones UK, and for free shipping worldwide via Book Depository. It is also available as an ebook via Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook, and Apple iBooks (iPad/iPhone).