Today has been one of those days. I sat down at my husbands desk instead of replugging the computer in at mine. That was mistake #1. Work spaces are important. I opted to power through catch-up work instead of my usual ritual of going out to do something in the morning and then working the afternoon and evening. That was mistake #2. I did the catch-up work, but it took me many more hours than it should have. Oh well. Distraction, you have been my master today. You shall not have tomorrow.
BUT! There is this one thing on my to-do list that I can check off: Writing a blog post on how to not write clunky dialogue. So here goes. (This isn’t going to be a long blog post. I’ve only got two points. Two good ones, but two points). Its a massive pet hate of mine when the dialogue in a book is clunky. Hate it, hate it, hate it. Fortunately, the fix is nice and easy.
1. Don’t over-use names. Next time you are with friends, have a listen to the way they talk to each-other. They don’t use each-others names all the time. If the conversation is one on one, they barely ever use names. It just isn’t a thing we do. We already know who we are talking to, so we don’t feel the need to address them all the time.
“Edward, blah blah blah blah.” “Yes, Jen Blah blah blah” “Well Edward blah blah blah.” It just doesn’t happen. It would sound very odd if it did! Hence, a wise writer is best to stay clear of name over-use.
2. Read your dialogue out loud. This is a nice little fail-safe to incorporate into your dialogue writing. It may sound weird, sitting at your desk talking to yourself and answering back (a sure sign of madness so I’m told. Apparently only the answering back is the problem), but it means you pick up on the unauthentic sounding dialogue as it happens. When you go through the edits, its not a bad idea to read out loud either. What sounds right when you are riding on the wind of inspiration may not sound right when you are sweeping in with your red pen/scalpel to rip your manuscript to shreds.
So those are my two dialogue tips. Enjoy!