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Posts tagged ‘Writing dialogue’

Writing Engaging Dialogue

Through Tom Chiarella’s book, Writing Dialogue, I learned how to classify my dialogue–bloated–and how to correct it:  “strip it to the barest bones.  Cut everything.” (p. 63)  Chiarella gave examples. One example sounded just like my writing 😦

Here’s what his chapter on compression told me to change:

  • Interrupt – cut the other off
  • Complete another speaker’s sentences
  • Repeat each other
  • Change the subject, briefly or completely

This is very different from how I have been writing. My background is exclusively in writing reports, essays and letters for business and for college. It’s a huge challenge for me to write fiction dialogue (or non-fiction storytelling) that sucks readers in and compels them to become  one with a character or two.

I would be eternally grateful for your feedback on the 800 word piece I just finished. Your suggestions might even help me sound less foolish as I read it to the G.R. Writers’ Group this week. [I will even give points for valid suggestions…OK, that’s the teacher in me; students will do almost anything for a few points. Will you?] Here it is:

Peeling An Onion

 “What are ya doing, sis?” was Vicky’s opening line. “I’m at the emergency room with Mom, but I can’t stay. Can you come at least by two? ”

I paused before agreeing. Maybe I should lie and say I’d be heartbroken if this was it. Maybe I’m pathetic and heartless, but I don’t believe animosity is a natural state. It’s earned.

Vicky continued, “This is a strange one. Mom’s out of her mind this time. She doesn’t know…”

“What? What brought this on?  Did she have another stroke? Is she conscious?”

“Yeah, she’s conscious and everything seems to be working. She just has no clue what’s going on. Dad said she got up in the middle of the night, got him up, got herself dressed and started breakfast.”

“Why is eating at odd hours or all hours so unusual for them?”

“Dad called me first thing this morning, crying.”

I quit staring at the drained pool, the focal point of the view from my window, and sat down. “What? I never saw him cry in my whole life!”

“Me, neither. That’s why I came right over. He said he’d been up all night with her. Said he kept trying to persuade her it wasn’t morning. Even pulling back the blinds didn’t help. Dad said she’d pull out some breakfast things, start to eat, but then get up and clear the table. He said she’d done this at least three times in a row. And that was around 3 a.m.”

“OK, Sis, I’ll get ready. Do the doctors know why?” (more…)

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