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Jan's Writing Basics #6--More About 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.

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Postby OldManRivers » Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:08 pm

Let There Be Dreams


And God said, “Let them dream, for this too is of holy worth.”

Then man dreamed his first dream. He dreamed of God and dreamed of this.

The man stood before God and asked, “God, how is it that I can imagine you, without ever seeing you?”

“Because I am deep within you, in the yet undiscovered realms of your spirit.”

The man allowed God’s answer to settle within his thoughts, then said, “I believe I understand. I understand that one I day I will understand. So I will dream on.”

Then God said, “As will I.”


I chose to use "asked" as to highlight the beginning of divine/human interplay.


p.s. my poetic ear wanted to use 'dreamt' but the spell check suggested to use "dreamed" because it is the more common American usage.
May God's gentle grace be with you.

Jim McWhinnie

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Postby Cajunluvie » Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:19 pm

Thanks, Jan. Yup, that was what I wanted to know.

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Postby glorybee » Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:21 pm

Jim, that was beautiful! "Dreamt" would have worked for me, too.

There's spell check on the boards? What? Where?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Symphonic » Mon Feb 22, 2010 4:59 pm

Jan, excellent lessons on dialog! So true, everything you've said!

I love writing dialog, and my favorite parts of my own fictional writings (not for the Challenge) are very dialog-heavy. It's made the Challenge more of a challenge for me, in fact... because by the time I've done all I need to do to create a coherent story, there aren't many words left for dialog. The dialog portions always get sliced and diced in the editing--which isn't necessarily a bad thing.

It takes some work to get dialog and dialog tags to sound just right. Often I have to read a section of dialog many times before I feel good about it. Invariably, the next time I look at it, I'll change something that sounds awkward.... and change it again. (I'm much more easily satisfied with my descriptions, because I know they're never going to be very good... :))

Here's an excerpt from my unfinished NANO novel (36,362 words--R.I.P.):

“If it is any consolation,” said the older man in a low voice, “I would have chosen differently for her.”

Charles swallowed. The words pierced like daggers.

“Then why...”

“When your brother came to Louisiana, I hadn’t met you.”

“But after you had...?”

“My friend, do you really think I needed to be away from home those two days? I thought perhaps, if you and she were together...”

“It wasn’t that,” Charles said bitterly. “All this–-the land, the house-–belongs to Mark, not me. I’m only a schoolteacher.”


I tend to leave out dialog tags whenever possible (sorry... next week's lesson, I know!). When I do use them, I like to use "said" most of the time. I often separate sections of dialog with action (to remind readers of the identity of the speaker). But sometimes I do use adverbs (as in "bitterly", above). Not all the time--just when it they seem to be needed, to clarify emotional nuances. Hard to explain, but I hope that makes sense!
Carol S.

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Postby OldManRivers » Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:01 pm

I pasted from WordPerfect but it seems the spell check showed up in the post window -- I think.
May God's gentle grace be with you.

Jim McWhinnie

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Postby glorybee » Mon Feb 22, 2010 5:24 pm

Carol, I love what you said about the nuances of writing. That's one thing I may be failing to convey in these classes, and why I'm so glad when talented writers like you stop by.

Truth is, NONE of my rules are hard-and-fast rules, just suggestions...and my hope is that as the beginners and interemediates here work on each skill, they'll also gain a feeling for when to break the 'rules'.

As you've done, with your 'bitterly'. Excellent.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby PamDavis » Mon Feb 22, 2010 9:28 pm

Sunrise arrived as an uninvited guest. Last nights announcement tormented me as I drenched my pillow with tears. My son received military orders to Iraq. Months of uncertainty were over. The squeak of his bedroom door drew me from my hiding place.

“Morning Mom, how about I make some of my famous flap jacks?”

Lord, it’s just not fair! He’s my only boy.

“Not hungry, only coffee.”

“Sure? This will be your last chance…”

Susan began to sob and fell into the rugged arms of her son.
“Grandpa died in Hawaii! Vietnam took your Dad! I won’t lose you, too!
With God All things are Possible!

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Postby glorybee » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:00 pm

Pam, you've skipped ahead to next week's lesson, too (tagless dialog), which is just fine.

Here's a question: Since you prefer (at least in this little story) not to use tags of any kind--is there a time when you would use them? When?

Here's the only problem I have with your "homework", and you'll kick yourself when you see it. You start with a first person narrator--an "I" character. But in the last paragraph, she's no longer "I", but "Susan"

Thanks for this tender little story!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby PamDavis » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:39 pm

Oops! Got me with the Susan. I guess I'd be more likely to tag the speakers when more characters are involved in the conversation. I forgot to ask my question. I'm never sure if I should use italics or quotes when a person is in silent prayer. I mean he is not thinking to himself. He is praying to God.

Pam
With God All things are Possible!

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Postby glorybee » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:49 pm

Pam, use italics for silent prayer.
Jan Ackerson

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Postby PamDavis » Mon Feb 22, 2010 10:57 pm

Thanks for clearing that up for me Jan.

Pam
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Postby FreedomWriter » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:07 am

"I don't know who you think you are." Lance said to his wife. "I'm the one working a real job while you just sit there, typing away on Faithwriters."

"This isn't all fun and games, ya know." Replied Mrs. Lance. "One day, it's gonna pay the bills and glorify God, as if you care."

"Really? You really think you can launch your dream with the fire of passion alone?" said Lance.

"I'm convinced of it." Mrs. Lance said as she floated out of the room.


(These characters are purely fictional.) ;)
Last edited by FreedomWriter on Tue Feb 23, 2010 5:22 am, edited 4 times in total.
-Rikki
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Jeremiah 29:11

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Destination: Doctor of Psychology.

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Postby DanielK » Tue Feb 23, 2010 4:17 am

"HEEEYAH! Die, die, die!" Hacking and slashing his way through the enemy ranks, Ninja approached his master. "Sensei! I'm coming!" he said. "Hyargh! Phew, that was tough. What's this strange glowy stone?"

"Ninja, beware!" Sensei said. "Don't touch that rock!"

"What the? All this power! Yaaaaahhhhhh!" Chop.

"Argh! Ninja," said Sensei. "You have wounded me!"

"No! my Sensei! What have I done? The stone did it. I went berserk." Filled with remorse, Ninja bowed before his fallen master. Snarling, he vowed, "I will avenge you, master. The enemies who created that foul rock shall pay dearly!"


I think that maybe my thinking is firmly embedded in the school way of writing. I put in the <b>vowed</b> because it fitted with the tension and the despair. I could have said 'said', but when I tried it just didn't sound right, even with something to imply a vow in the dialog. Is that all right?

Daniel.

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Postby glorybee » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:27 am

FreedomWriter, thanks for this little bit of inspiring dialog!

I didn't intend to get into the mechanics of punctuation, but since you and a few before you have made a few common errors in capitalization and punctuation, I just can't let them go. I've corrected the areas of concern in red, below.

FreedomWriter wrote:"I don't know who you think you are," Lance said to his wife. "I'm the one working a real job while you just sit there, typing away on Faithwriters."

"This isn't all fun and games, ya know," replied Mrs. Lance. "One day, it's gonna pay the bills and glorify God, as if you care."

"Really? You really think you can launch your dream with the fire of passion alone?" said Lance.

"I'm convinced of it," Mrs. Lance said as she floated out of the room.


(These characters are purely fictional.) ;)


Did you follow the changes I made in punctuation and spelling?

More to the point, how did you feel about the use of "said" in your dialog?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby glorybee » Tue Feb 23, 2010 8:36 am

Daniel, I really appreciate your frequent causing me to rethink, mostly because the fantasy genre is not particularly familiar to me. My feeling is that fantasy seems to be more dramatic, flowery, elaborate--just MORE all around. It's quite probable that fantasy readers like and expect fancier dialog tags.

Can you do me a favor and recommend to me an author or two of fantasy writing, so that I can check out the style? Who's considered the best--mainstream published, making a living from it, well-received in the book world?

In your example, the 'saids' don't bother me--and neither does the 'vowed'. For that matter, neither do the exclamation points--although they made me tired. But that's purely personal preference--It's just not my genre.

Write on!
Jan Ackerson

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