Friday, March 10, 2017

The Art of Dialogue: Move the Plot Forward

A popular post from July 2013

By Julie Wright
part one of four

Dialogue is one of the most important parts of effective writing to me. It's one of my strengths in my writing, and so it's disappointing to me when it isn't a strength of other writers. I won't care if your commas are scattered like dandelion seeds on a manicured lawn, but I will sigh mightily if the dialogue doesn't work.

Sigh and likely put your book down.

So here is the first of four tips on what your dialogue should accomplish. The next three tips will come each Tuesday for the next three weeks. Remember that dialogue can do all of the four things, but it has to do at least one of them in order to be of any use to your story.

Tip number one:

Move the Plot Forward
Dialogue is a place where your characters can learn new information that helps them deal with the conflicts they're experiencing.
  • This is where they make decisions about where to go from here.
  • This is where they argue, fall in love, declare war, ask for divorces, make peace. Basically, this is where we create tension and conflict.
  • This is where information is shared between characters that helps them understand if there is impending danger, or if the danger has moved on already. It helps build suspense.
  • This is where the reader comes to understand how the character fits into the plot they've been dropped into. It allows the character discovery opportunities.
  • This is where things happen because the characters say it’s happening.
Moving the plot forward means the dialogue is necessary. It has earned it's right to be in your story. I believe that writing is like owning an apartment complex. If you rent a few apartments out to people who aren't paying rent--you need to evict them so that you can maintain profitability and stay in business. If you have scenes of dialogue that aren't paying their rent by contributing to the book as a whole, then they need to be evicted. Squatters have no place in a good story. Nowhere is this more true than with dialogue. Make certain your dialogue is paying its rent. Make sure it is moving the plot forward.

1 comment:

Stephanie Jacobs said...

Reading all of these tips for writing make me want to sit down and write. It's as simple as that. Dialogue isn't easy for everyone, but it is very important. I'm excited to read the rest of the tips in the weeks to come.