Dialogue has a much bigger part in books than you realize.
Hey guys! It’s Mary here from Wild Writing Dreams, and today I’m going to be stealing Ari’s blog (don’t worry, I didn’t lock her up and force her to give me her blog for the day, she gave me permission…*evil laughter is heard from afar*) to share with you guys 3 awesome things most people don’t know about dialogue, and how it really enhances your story!
Let’s gets started!
*Note: Ari has let me include some links to articles from my own blog. Feel free to click, read, and learn!
1. Dialogue Enhances The Tension
In real life, it’s best to keep the fighting and conflict out of conversations. But in books, that’s actually something needed. Siblings or lovers must quarrel, best friends fight, and classmates hold grudges.
No conflict, no story, buttt characters can’t be fighting on every page, otherwise they’ll all come across as, well, brats.
So, what do you do after a fight happens and the characters are still mad at each other? BOOM, you guessed it: you use dialogue.
Dialogue is a way of expressing ones feelings, so when characters storm away from each other and see each other again a few days later, they might not fight through actions, but through tense dialogue.
If someone hadn’t been present in the fight from earlier, they could pick up pretty quickly that there’s something tense going on between them just by listening to their dialogue (especially seeing as they can’t hear the fighter’s thoughts).
And if someone had witnessed the fight from earlier, they can clearly spot the growing (or lessening!) tension between the two, which actually effects how a character behaves/feels/talks in the following days.
- Example: “Are you ready?” I asked, my voice coming out gruffer than I intended. I thought maybe I was over our disagreement, but I guess not. Emma look up at me with a scowl, “Do I look ready?” she snapped. I guess for once we could agree on the same thing: we hated each other.
Actions and thoughts add a lot to tension, but dialogue is the thing that really strings it all together.
This is something that we might already do unintentionally, but knowing this can really help you purposefully create some awesome tense scenes, which will actually reel readers in without them knowing what you’re doing to them!
2. Dialogue Helps Us Understand Characters
Believe it or not, dialogue actually has a massive impact on whether readers will understand your characters or not!
Every time your character opens his or her mouth and says something, you begin to understand a little bit more about them than you did before. Who they are, what their goals are, how they need to change or have changed, and what personality they have!
Think about it: How much can you figure out about a person in real life by just thinking things about them? You have to walk up to them and TALK to figure out what kind of a person they are! (unless you have telepathy powers, which I would LOVE to know about, by the way) Same goes for characters in a story. They have to talk to each other for readers to understand everything about them.
If a character is really bratty for example, and they go through a change, their dialogue will go from snappy to kind. See what I mean?
3. Withholding Dialogue Moves The Plot
When you ‘use’ dialogue, you write it. But actually, when you don’t write dialogue, it can be as equally effective.
Have you ever heard the saying ‘actions speak louder than words’?
If you have characters just sit right down with one another for afternoon tea and explain all the secrets of life, then there’s really no point left to the questions of the book!
But, if you had a character withhold information (i.e. basically not voice the information) from the protagonist (which also counts as the readers), then this creates tension which will lead the protagonist-and the readers-to seek answers. This then further moves the plot as well as makes readers want to read more.
- Ex: For those of you familiar with Harry Potter: Harry Potter’s aunt and uncle withheld the information about him and his mom and dad being wizards. This drew out the tension-especially with all of Harry’s incoming mail-until Hagrid dropped the bomb.
The KEY to acing the technique of withholding, is to use the actions of the characters to the maximum.
The protagonist-most likely-can’t read minds,
why do we keep going back to mind reading? so he can’t know what’s going on inside the withholder’s head. So, instead, he has to see or sense body language that the character is either lying (eyes glancing and flicking around, etc.) or just not saying as much as they know (drop hints that they know more than they let on during their dialogue parts).
Or, simply, just say ‘he got the feeling there was more to the story than she was letting on’, you know?
*Tip: usually a new character, or an old/mentor character will withhold information from the protagonist. Sometimes the whole book is based off of retrieving this information, but other times the protagonist just has do something or achieve something of varying degrees of importance before they can learn the information.
So, instead of laying all the facts down on a silver platter to the protagonist and readers, withold some information to keep everyone on their toes.
- shares backstory
Don’t waste your precious dialogue on talking about what’s up. Use it to its maximum capacity, and readers will get sucked in without realizing what happened to them.
Were any of these tips helpful for you guys?
Have you ever seen or used any of these?
Also, a HUGE thank you to Ari for inviting me to guest post! This was my first ever guest post, so I hope I did well, and I hope everyone enjoyed having me here for today!