D. F. Krieger

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Writer Wednesday: Dialogue

Dialogue can be the hardest or easiest thing to write, depending on how moody your characters are. For some of us, we can hardly get the characters to shut up long enough for us to write the pertinent story line. Other characters need liquoring up and (occasionally) the administration of illegal substances *cough*truthserums*cough* before they will even tell us their name. Regardless, dialogue, like many things has rules. Yes, rules.

As an editor, I can tell you that one of the biggest and common mistakes I see are dialogue "tags". Dialogue tags are used, along with the speech itself, to enhance what a character has said. However, actions do not qualify as dialogue tags.

"I love you," she murmured against my throat. <--That is correct. We know her voice was soft and slightly muffled by the intimate placement of her mouth.

"I love you," she kissed his throat. <--Red Flag! Here is where I would be inking my authors. Kissing a throat is an action. It is NOT a dialogue tag. So the appropriate form is:  "I love you." She kissed his throat.

Does this make sense? Okay, good, moving on to mistake number two.

Snarled, hissed, growled, laughed, giggled, grinned, smirked, etc.

No, no. *Whack* Bad! I know your shapeshifter is sexy and alpha and all kinds of grrr protective when he's around your heroine, but I don't care how close to his beast he is-- he cannot literally growl words. Go ahead, try it...

So unless you are super-talented, that didn't work out so well, did it? You can try the others now, if you like. No? Well, let me make one admission. You can hiss words...sorta.

"S-s-so, sh-h-he wants-s-s to write?" he hissed. <--Words with an "s", "sh", "th" and sometimes "ch". Though this is still under debate, I'd strongly suggest using common sense in the situation.

"Not now," she hissed. <-- Sharp syllables and clipped sounding words do not allow for hissing. Even Smeagol couldn't hiss all his words, precious.

And that concludes today's lesson. Any questions? ~ D. F. Krieger


kastil said...

Your posts sing to me.

gayl said...

I love these posts. Really so helpful to those of us who don't always think about the rules when we write.

*runs to look at manuscript and hopes DF was not reading it at the time of this post*

Leona said...

I'm sure your post is awesome, but I was so busy looking at your awesome covers, I got distracted :)

Oh wait, the dialogue tags. I'm so guilty of that. But, just ask my kids, I CAN growl and talk at the same time ;-)

Ann Harrison said...

Dialog tags, hmm *runs to quickly change mine*.
Mine are perfect thanks to my super clever ed.
love your posts D. Always timely and helpful.

SJ Thomas said...

I love these types of post because what ever they tell you not to do you can bet you've seen it done by at least one big NY author. Great post and I am going to go and double check my Christmas story just to make sure I don't get growled at!