I love me some dialogue.

I love writing it. Narrative? Not so much. But my characters are into dialogue.

Angie did a great blog post on dialogue. Go read it.

I’m really careful when writing dialogue to make sure it ‘sounds’ realistic, that it’s something real people would actually say. I do read it out loud.

Charlie reads my work and he’s a stickler for male dialogue, always red-penning the male dialogue that doesn’t sound “guy-ish”. I get a lot of “a guy would never say this” notes in the margins. He’s great for that kind of stuff because, obviously, I’m not a guy. I don’t think like one and I don’t talk like one.

When I did copyedits for Surviving Demon Island, the copyeditor wanted to change a piece of Derek’s dialogue. Derek and Gina were in a hot, passionate moment, and Derek wanted Gina to come over and lay down with him. The copyeditor wanted to change it to ‘lie’ down, making it more grammatically correct.

Nuh uh. Dialogue isn’t always grammatically correct. I didn’t make that change. Derek is not an English butler.

Original: Now come lay down on the bed with me and I’ll make you forget all your troubles
Suggested Change: Now come lie down on the bed with me and I’ll make you forget all your troubles

No ex military alpha male rough and kickass guy is going to say ‘lie’ down. At least not in my mind. Sorry. No change.

One word. One little word, but to me it changed my character. So I left it the way it was.

Dialogue makes your characters’ personalities. And every character is different, so their dialogue should differentiate one character from another.

If you removed every reference and dialogue tag from your book, would you be able to tell who the characters were? You should.

Off to write more dialogue.

8 thoughts on “Dialogue

  1. 1
    Maya says:

    I’m a huge stickler for word choice in dialogue and even in narrative, and it is SO true that even one word can change the tone/meaning/character.

  2. 2

    Good for your for sticking to your guns!

  3. 3

    I’m big on dialogue also. I can write an entire first draft of nothing but dialogue, then go back and fill in the narritive. My husband is also good at pointing out when my guys don’t sound right. I find if I cut about half the words I have them speaking, it sounds more realistic. 😀

  4. 4
    Jaci says:

    Very true Christine. Men speak in shorter sentences, as we women well know

    Uh huh

    Nuh uh



  5. 5
    Diana says:

    During the revisions phase of my last book, my editor wanted to rewrite a few scenes to have fewer particpants (total sense). But it wasn’t as simple as simply reassigning dialogue tags. What one person would say, another person wouldn’t. I ended up having to completely rewrite the scenes with fewer people in the room. I also found they spoke somewhat diffrently when there weren’t as many people listening. 😉

  6. 6

    Yes, I think having men say fewer words and basically be more blunt often is the best dialogue.

  7. 7
    Teri brown says:

    Dialogue is my strength. I love it and for some reason have teen dialogue down. maybe that means I’m immature:)

  8. 8
    Jaci says:

    Diana – that makes total sense. Every character brings something different to a conversation, or should.

    Teri – YA dialogue is so unique. That’s so cool that you have that down. :hips:

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