Tag Archives: dialogue

Nanowrimo Day 4 ‘D’ for Dialogue with my cat

Day 4….#NaNoWriMo

I woke up to rain pelting my windows.  And, to my cat having a conversation with the raindrops running down -the outside- of my bedroom window. His nose was pressed to the glass, following the movement. Leaning away from the window, his furry cheeks puffed as he glared.  He let out a loud angry, ‘MEOW.”  Then he reared up and started pawing at the glass. He was trying to dig his way through the windowpane, to those raindrops. Raindrops with the audacity to thumb their wet noses at him.

 

“Stop,” I said.

My husband said, “your cat.”

“Yours too.”

The cat yowled, again.

Both of us yelled. “Shut up!”

 

What moved this dialogue?

Nothing. Unless we heard a noise outside the window.

 

“Stop,”  I said.

My husband said, “your cat.”

“Yours too.”

The cat yowled, again. Something large hit the window. Scaring the cat. He ran in the closet.

“What was that? Go look,” I said.

“Me! And be eaten by zombies. You look!”

 

What was at the window? It wasn’t a zombie but a raccoon. A raccoon with large claws that started pulling at the window frame. Guess he wasn’t happy being watched by a cat. (Note to self. Buy caulk.)

D is for Dialogue.

What do you need to write great dialogue?  Do you need to know where to put your noun? Where to add an action verb, how to be aware of prepositions?  Sentence structure?  Correct grammar?

Um, No.

Everyone knows someone who  habitually corrects spoken grammar … My husband is one of them. When writing, kick them out of your head.

Dialogue isn’t full sentences and correct grammar.

Dialogue’s function in a story is to reveal information, meaning, conflict, desire, and motivation, adds drama, and adds movement, creates a voice for your character making him/her real, and an IT scarier.

Drop extraneous words. If you are unsure which words to drop, then pretend you are physically in the scene and act it out.  Did it roll off your tongue? Or did zombies catch you while you were quoting the Gettysburg Address?

My example:

I want ice cream.”

“Later.”

“Now.”
“Can’t you wait?”

“No.”

 

I recommend reading Richard Ford. He is amazing at writing dialogue. He moves the story forward with subtext to imply motives. Pay attention to his dialogue tags.

 

“And I guess you’re married, too.”

“I was,” I said. “But not right now.”

“That’s fine, “ she said.

“You look fine.” She smiled at me. 

~(Page 189) Rock Springs stories, by Richard Ford

 

And this one:

 

“Did you happen, “ my mother said, “to find a pair of striped socks anywhere in this house today?”

“No,” I said.

“Well, “ she smiled. “Have you eaten anything?”

“No,” I said. “But, I’m hungry.”

“I’d fix something, “ she said. Then she looked around at the clock that was beside the door to the kitchen. “I’ll fix something in a while,” she said….”

~ pg. 134, Richard Ford, Wildlife.

Listen to how you talk. Record your voice. Ignore your, Um’s and huh’s. Listen to the words. Then write them down.

Then read them out-loud.

Flash from the past.

 

Lesson 11 ‘Writing Dialogue, James Patterson’s Masterclass

Lesson 11 ‘Writing Dialogue, Friday’s with James Patterson’s Masterclass

James Patterson's Masterclass
James Patterson’s Masterclass

“All of your key interchanges with your characters, I mean, they gonna be good, bad or indifferent just because of the dialogue. And how they talk to each other it is gonna reveal who they are. Who’s smarter, who’s taking advantage of who? Who’s lying? Who’s telling the truth? Who’s in charge? And who’s really in charge”. ~James Patterson

Mr. Patterson used Lush Life by Richard Price,  his example of  what great dialogue can sound like. I have that book. I need to sit down with it, read and learn, pull the dialogue apart , examine its details. And figure out its ‘hows and whys’ .  This is definitely the type of dialogue that I would love to write.

Here are a few lines from, page 6 of Lush Life.

“What do we got…”

“Two males in the front.”

“What do we got…”

“Neon trim on the plate.”

“Tinted windows.”

“Right rear taillight.”

“Front passenger just stuffed something under the seat.”

No dialogue tags. Just fast paced dialogue. Short, tight writing. It moves along. In just these seven lines I can feel and see the movement as the cops check out the car they stopped. I felt like I walked around that car.

My thoughts on this: check out your favorite authors and see how they write their dialogue. Read it out loud. Get the feel for it. Then ask yourself if you learned anything new about that character from their dialogue. Where did the author take you in this dialogue?

James Patterson doesn’t write realism. His dialogue is heightened – but it feels real. Without being ‘literally’ real dialogue. Because real dialogue is boring…

Listen to how people speak when you are in the store, at work, on the bus.

This class has a comments section, where you can post your lesson and a video critique by James on his office hour’s page where he will answer questions.

Enroll by clicking the link on the upper left sidebar.