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Jan's Writing Basics #7--Final lesson on dialog

These lessons, by one of our most consistent FaithWriters' Challenge Champions, should not be missed. So we're making a permanent home for them here.

Moderators: mikeedwards, glorybee

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Green Leaves
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Postby Green Leaves » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:06 pm

I just sigh when I read these other entries. What a creative bunch! You all are fantastic. Love reading your homework! When I grow up I want to be just like all of you. :D

Carol
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"God has not called me to be successful, God has called me to be faithful." Mother Teresa

"...not to advance in the spiritual life is to go back. But those who have the gale of the Holy Spirit go forward even in sleep.". Brother Lawrence

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Soren2007
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Postby Soren2007 » Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:16 pm

glorybee wrote:
Soren2007 wrote:hoping I can just do the extra credit? Pick up A Clean Well-Lighted Place by Hemingway. Best dialogue tag/no tag, make it indescript in the tag and descriptive in the sentence juxtaposing character laced up cool story about drinking I'll probably ever read.
http://www.mrbauld.com/hemclean.html


I read this story with high school students many years ago, and loved it--thanks for reminding me!

I hope the rest of you will read this, for Hemingway's masterful use of 'said' and dialog pacing. So, so good!

To continue the plug, I think this short story's three characters are really one character, a young man with strong ideals that were torn apart by going home too early one day, that pacified his anger drinking alone at home and found new ideals, then disciplined himself to no longer drink alone. So, tags become less relevant and their ommission becomes intentional and significant. I've seen reviews that suggest the three people are one, but am on my own limb that the events are connected in quite that way. Given biographical information about the author tho, I think it's a pretty compelling case.
“Get to work. Your work is to keep cranking the flywheel that turns the gears that spin the belt in the engine of belief that keeps you and your desk in midair.” ~Dillard.

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Postby tburnszoo » Sat Mar 06, 2010 11:55 am

Yes, I understand what you mean, Jan. Your suggestion does flow better.

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Postby yvonne » Mon Mar 08, 2010 8:47 am

I've been away (visiting my son, his wife, and my grandson) for a week.

Jan, earlier you asked me why I didn't like dialogue tags. Well, I had grown up fascinated by words, especially adjectives and adverbs, but in the last few years, I've learned that they bog down my writing. I've learned that "said" is an invisible tag - meaning it doesn't distract the reader from the dialogue but adding more (and sometimes confusing) detail. I saw a short story written with only dialogue once and decided to try my hand at it.

This was my first ever Challenge entry and I got an EC...SHOCK!!
(excuse the lack of space between lines... I didn't know)

Billy the Kid

I find the trick to doing this is to include direct address occasionally, so we know who is speaking to whom. Also, the style of speech and what they are saying also gives clues. This is a rather long piece, but I often include shorter sections of un-tagged dialogue in my writing.

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Re: Jan's Writing Basics #7--Final lesson on dialog

Postby swfdoc1 » Thu Mar 18, 2010 10:02 pm

glorybee wrote:4. Don’t use a dialog tag at all.

“Have you seen Piper’s adorable blonde fluff?”

“Jan, you're just a teensy bit obnoxious about that baby.”


Tagless dialog will move your story right along, and will save you precious words. If you do this, be sure that your reader can keep track of each speaker by

a. giving each one a distinctive voice
b. having them address each other by name every now and then
c. referring occasionally to other identifying events or characteristics
d. adding tags every so often

NOTE: if you find that your story consists almost entirely of dialog, consider writing it in the form of a play or a skit. Or italicize one voice. All-dialog stories are very difficult to write well, but can be very effective when they are.


Look at this. Wow! Well done and well deserved second place EC.
Steve
nlf.net
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"When the Round Table is broken every man must follow Galahad or Mordred; middle
things are gone." C.S. Lewis
“The chief purpose of life … is to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks. To do as we say in the Gloria in Excelsis ... We praise you, we call you holy, we worship you, we proclaim your glory, we thank you for the greatness of your splendor.” J.R.R. Tolkien

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Postby glorybee » Fri Mar 19, 2010 12:01 am

Agreed! Superb job, William!
Jan Ackerson

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