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Jan's Writing Basics #5b--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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tburnszoo
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Tina & Jocelyn

Postby tburnszoo » Sun Feb 28, 2010 2:31 pm

“No, Jocelyn, you cannot go see Spring Break Axe Murderer; you’re only fourteen,” Tina was trying to be calm, but her fuse felt short at the moment.

“But Mom, everyone’s seeing it. Ashley and Tiffani really want me to go with them,” Jocelyn protested. “You don’t let me do anything.”

Tina thought for a moment. She hated saying no to her daughter. Her mother had always said no to everything Tina had wanted to do. She didn’t want to have as bad a relationship with Jocelyn as she had with her mother.

“Ok, you can go, but make sure you stay with Ashley and Tiffani. Don’t go off by yourself.”

“Thanks, Mom,” Jocelyn quickly hugged her mom then ran to her bedroom to call her friends.

She’s just like me, Tina thought.

------------------------------

This is my first post so I hope I'm doing this right. I wasn't sure how much more detailed I should get.

Thank you, Jan, for offering these exercises to stretch our skills!

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glorybee
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Postby glorybee » Sun Feb 28, 2010 4:49 pm

tburnszoo--

Thanks for stopping by and doing this assignment! Your dialog was definitely natural sounding, and your writing skills are quite apparent.

Here are two things for you to think about--not necessarily things that you did wrong (you didn't), but things that you might want to do differently.

1. I applaud you for using a semicolon correctly; lots of writers lack that skill. BUT...I usually don't put it in dialog. It's not the kind of pause that you "hear" when people speak. In your first sentence, I'd replace it with a period, or perhaps a dash.

2. In your 3rd paragraph, rather than "telling" your reader what Tina thought--why not give us her actual thoughts? Something like this:

I hate saying no to her--I sound just like my mother. I'll do anything to have a better relationship with Joc...Tina slumped in resignation. "Okay, you can go, but stay with Ashley and Tiffany."

This will save a few words of explaining, and will help your reader to get to know Tina better.

What do you think?

By the way, after 'fourteen' (par. 1) and 'Mom' (par. 5), you should have periods instead of commas. See my previous posts in this thread for the reasons...and be sure to stop in for tomorrow's final lesson on dialog!

I enjoyed reading your take on these two characters--thanks so much for contributing!
Jan Ackerson

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Postby honeyrock » Sun Feb 28, 2010 5:28 pm

Wow, no kidding. That could get boring fast, eh? Thanks so much!!!!
Be strong and very courageous Joshua 1:7

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Dialog Lesson

Postby tburnszoo » Tue Mar 02, 2010 6:10 pm

Thanks for the tips, Jan. Your suggestion about putting Tina's thoughts into dialog makes sense.

Now on to your next lesson!

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Postby Bear-Bear » Sat Mar 13, 2010 11:24 am

Bear knows this is an old thread and likely everyone's gone for good. But it was very helpful. Bear wrote her shot at the assignment, and is now reading people's responses, and learning more as she does so.

Here's Bear's take, so far . . .

Jocelyn straightened, taking advantage of her proud 14-year-old height to glare into her mother's eyes, straight on. "Moooo-ther. I can't believe you won't let me go to tonight's midnight showing of Spring Break Axe Murderer! Ashley and Tiffani will really get on me if I miss -- won't be best friends anymore if you keep making me miss going to all the best stuff with 'em. Everyone's going. I'll be dissed for sure, Monday, by the whole school."

Despite her mounting frustration, Tina had to smile inwardly ... Just like me at that age, always wanting to fit in. She'll have to learn for herself, I suppose.

"Oh, all right. I doubt I'll hear the end of it if I keep you from your weekly dose of blood, gore, and heinous criminal acts . . . just be careful, will you? The mall looks safe enough, but you know that neighborhood . . . I don't want you meeting a real axe murderer on the streets. Make sure your cell phone's charged, just in case, okay?"

Jocelyn laughed, gave a bit of a hop, and hugged her. "In case I meet the axe murderer, ya mean?"
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Postby glorybee » Sat Mar 13, 2010 12:01 pm

Ruth, thanks for stopping by! It's never too late.

Your little vignette really shows the personalities of the two characters, and your writing skills. I found Jocelyn's dialog just a tad unrealistic--not entirely how teens speak (just a bit too articulate). Possible changes:

"Moooo-ther. I can't believe you won't let me go! Ashley and Tiffani won't be my friends anymore if I keep missing out on all the cool stuff. Everyone's going. Everyone's gonna dis me!"


This old lady's not sure about 'cool' and 'dis', but you get the idea.

What do you think?
Jan Ackerson

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Postby Bear-Bear » Sat Mar 13, 2010 1:00 pm

Bear thinks yours definitely sounds more like a real teenager than mine does. Thanks for the helpful feedback!

I think I was trying to fit way too much info into one dialogue snippet, as well as still not hitting the target on actual teen rhythm and speech shortcuts, which I think you nailed on the head.

I'm in the same boat concerning "diss" and "cool". I THINK "cool" is currently back in, with about the same use as back in 1960's talk, but am wondering if it's STILL in, or if it's "out" again and no longer safe to use? (When I say "cool" to random teenagers to test it out, they at least don't :roll: their eyes at me.)

"Diss" apparently came in about 5 years ago or so, and I THINK it's still used quite a bit. So I tried to use it, but had to look it up on the Web to figure out the exact way to fit it into a sentence, and I could be off on it. I envy those with teenagers in their house, who have real-life examples walking around them all the time. Because I really would like to learn to write for teenagers.

Here's one web definition I found, googling . . . "diss -- treat, mention, or speak to rudely; "He insulted her with his rude remarks"; "the student who had betrayed his classmate was dissed by everyone" "

I especially like your use of "gonna", as that sounds much more natural.
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Postby CharlotteMaccallum » Sun May 02, 2010 4:52 am

Jocelyn was upset with her mother. “I can’t believe you won’t let me go see Spring Break Axe Murder. Everyone else is going.

Tina, a young mother herself was one of those mothers who tries to be a friend to her teenager saw Jocelyn’s unhappiness. After some thought, she changed her mind. “You may go see the movie but please be careful. “She’s just like me.” Tina thought.

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Postby glorybee » Sun May 02, 2010 8:43 am

Charlotte, you definitely took away a lot of the 'junk' in my sample paragraphs. Good job!

Can you take it a step further now, and give Tina and Jocelyn some personality? Instead of telling us about Tina's past, can you show us, by describing Tina, or by giving her some spunkier dialog?

Go back and re-read some of the really creative entries on this thread for an idea of what I mean. I'd really love to see you give this another shot!
Jan Ackerson

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Exercise # 5b--Dialog

Postby trinkes2002 » Wed May 12, 2010 2:20 pm

This sounds like my daughter when she was 14. At the wedding reception I took my new son-in-law aside and told him two things. I'm not going to interfere in their affairs... and you ain't bringing her back. I was kidding, but he doesn't have to know that.

Jocelyn, a 14-year-old girl, was totally upset with her mother.

"I can't believe that you won't let me go to see that movie! All my friends are going, and I'll be with Ashley and Tiffani. Just because it's called 'The Spring Break Axe Murderer' doesn't mean its all that bad—you know?”

Tina, a mother in her early thirties, had Jocelyn when she was young herself and tried to be a friend to her daughter. She thought for a while, and after seeing Jocelyn's unhappiness, she relented.

"You may go to the movies with your young friends tonight,” Tina said. “But be certain that you are cautious and careful, please." She is just like me, Tina thought, but she's still wearing me out.

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Postby glorybee » Wed May 12, 2010 3:50 pm

Tom, you've really made Jocelyn's dialog sound more teen-like and natural than my horrible example.

To my ear, Tina's dialog still sounds a bit stiff and unrealistic. For example, most people I know would say 'you're' instead of 'you are', and most mothers probably would say 'your young friends.'

I'd love to see you give this another shot, perhaps after reading the entries of honeyrock and some of the others who really stretched beyond my scenario and gave these two gals lots of personality.

Superb start, and I can't wait to read your next contribution!
Jan Ackerson

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Exercise # 5b--Dialog Redux

Postby trinkes2002 » Wed May 12, 2010 5:35 pm

Jan, see what you think of Tina's character now. She could have been my mother.

Jocelyn, a 14-year-old girl, was totally upset with her mother.

"I can't believe that you won't let me go see that movie! All my friends are going, and I'll be with Ashley and Tiffani. Just because it's called 'The Spring Break Axe Murderer' doesn't mean its all that bad—you know?”

Tina, a mother in her early thirties, had Jocelyn when she was young herself and tried to be a friend to her daughter. She thought for a while, and after seeing Jocelyn's unhappiness, she relented.

"Alright, you can go ,” Tina said. “But be careful, and listen to your chaperone.”

“Chaperone? Really, Mom, we don't have a chaperone, and we don't need one.”

“Oh...yes you do.” Tina said, raising one eyebrow. “Wait 'till I get my purse—I'm buying.”

She is just like me at that age, Tina thought, and I love her to death, but she just wears me out.

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Postby glorybee » Wed May 12, 2010 9:14 pm

There you go! I knew you could do it!
Jan Ackerson

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