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Thursday, September 22, 2011

Self-Editing, the Andy Way * Part Four

 Now that you are done with the 101 questions a writer needs to ask themselves when editing, we are  ready for the another pass.  This time let's look at our dialogue.

    Well written, dialogue moves the story a long and reveals the character.  I had the pleasure of working with Mitali Perkins in a workshop on dialogue so this blog has a little bit of Andy and a little bit of Mitali expertise. You get two experts through my filter.

     When you edit dialogue, always read it a loud and have someone else read it.  Then try reading only one character at a time.  Ask yourself if you can make sense out of the one sided dialogue?    Another way to see if you have strong dialogue is to get rid of the tags and read it through.  How does it sound?  Dialogue should always be natural sounding.

     Dialogue busters have to do with words, pacing, dialects, and not needed information that bust a great dialogue and ruin your story.

  • Annoying dialogue tags.  Try reading with and without.  The best dialogue does not focus on said.  It may be written but it feels invisible.
  • Abounding adverbs do not trust the reader.  Get rid of them.
  • Badly placed beats.  Beats speed up the pace or slow it down so get it right.
  • Random reactions that do not belong.
  • Pesky pauses that may take the reader out of the moment.
  • Disturbing dialect.  Write to be real and only as if your character has 20 seconds to answer.
  • Irritating information.  Dialogue is meant to be overheard by the reader so leave only the important information.
     Remember dialogue adds to the mood.  It can give the scene a different perspective. It has to be well paced and natural sounding.

    Next week is my final blog on editing.  I will wrap up with a few final ways to get out of your patterns and look at your work.


Alison Pearce Stevens said...

Lots of great information on editing! Dialogue can be really tough. I find it helpful to critique other people's writing. Pointing out their use of everything except "said" (shouted, whispered, murmured, screeched...) and/or misused beats really helps me hone in on problems with my own writing. I also found that a good long (3 month) break after I finished writing helped tremendously, in terms of looking at my work with fresh eyes. I didn't attend Andy's session, so I'm glad to find your notes!

Mirka Breen said...

Great post Diane. I thought I had considered it all, until I saw the suggestion to read only one character at a time, for their distinctive voice. Why Hadn’t I ever done that? Because I didn’t have your post and Andy’s wisdom.
But I do now. Thanks again.