Friday, January 14, 2011

When Dialogue is nothing but "Blah, Blah, Blah"

Getting your story moving in the first pages is crucial. You have heard us all talking and sometimes screaming about this idea. We also know that starting with a huge narration sometimes is not the best way, but by starting with dialogue we can keep things moving. So far, so good, right? But....

If your dialogue isn't doing anythign to either advance the story, or provide insight into the characters goals, motivations or personalities, then it is really a waste.

What is worse is when a story starts out with dialogue. Beginning a story this way with dialogue is a great way to get the story moving quickly, but if we simply have characters talking, without any real information, you have simply lost your readers. In situations like this, we simply have nothing to attach the characters words to. We don't know who they are. We don't know what they are doing? We know nothing. And now, we have paragraphs of empty words.

When you decide to use dialogue in your story, it is important that you always take the time to stop and think about what you want to achieve in this brief scene. What new piece of information do you want the reader to gain about the characters? What about the plot? Are we moving the story along toward that final conclusion? If you find that it doesn't do much, then this is a good area to do some serious hacking.

This weekend. Go to work on dialogue!



  1. I find dialogue easy most of the time. A lot easier than description or writing up an action scene. When I'm writing dialogue, I can see the characters in my mind, conversing and it flows.

  2. I'm with Patricia Lynne. The dialogue's only stiff when I don't know my characters good enough--and pointless when I'm not sure where my characters need to go next.

    At least, that's my opinion of my as-yet unpublished writing. :)

  3. Writing dialogue comes easily to me -- it's editing it back when I'm done that's the challenge, because although dialogue has to sound like real speech, it isn't real speech.

    Terry's Place
    Romance with a Twist--of Mystery