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Dialogue is a bore (but I love chatting)

March 21, 2012

I’ve been struggling with ‘making my dialogue work’. So after a reminder from one of my MA course mates, it seemed the perfect moment to revisit Robert Graham’s essays from the previous term. In his book ‘How to Write Fiction‘ Graham lists the seven key attributes dialogue should have. For easy reference I have summarised below.

1. creates and builds narrative tension
2. reveals character
3. is usually at its most effective when it comes in short speeches (2 lines max)
4. is often indirect (characters say one thing and mean another)
5. is characteristic of the person speaking it (make sure the right character is saying the right line)
6. is multipurpose (more than one thing going on at the same time, even if displaying multiple points from this list)
7. People don’t listen, characters don’t always respond (non-sequiturs make for good dialogue)

Refreshed and enthused, I will revisit scenes and try some new ones.

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