Monthly Archives: August 2011
Every Wednesday I’ll be sharing some hints and tips about how to improve your writing. These are basic things I have learned over the years, from writers websites, published authors and constructive feedback from friends, family and online pals.
There is an argument that fiction writing cannot be taught because it comes from talent alone, it is in your nature to be creative. Whilst there is some truth in that, even the most creative person needs to learn how to use their ability and make the best of their craft.
This week: How to make your dialogue feel real.
This week I’m going to discuss dialogue. “Y’know what I’m talkin’ ’bout, right daddy-o?” The stuff that goes between the speech marks. Doesn’t matter if you use the delicate single ‘ or the double whammy ” as long as you stick one at the start of the talky bit and one at the end, it’s all good. Writing dialogue can be a tricky dog to train, and for new writers this can be a serious challenge. It could be said that writing dialogue is easy, you just stick stuff between speech marks and tell the reader who says what and how they say it.
Come on Dave, it’s not rocket science.
Okay, so it is that easy. You got me, dear blog reader. But making dialogue feel real is an art form, an art within the art of writing.
Dialogue that feels real doesn’t flow easily for all writers, and novices can struggle with it. When it’s done well dialogue can convey many things without the narrative glue to bind it together. It can give the reader a tense feeling as two characters talk in hushed tones in a creepy grave yard, or make the reader sit up and pay attention as the characters shout and snap at one another in a fight or fast paced scene.
But just as authentic dialogue can mould characters and drive a story forward, bad dialogue can bring a reader out of the story to ask questions they shouldn’t have to.
Let’s start with the basics.
For this weeks Sunday Picture Press: Lunatic Dreams writing challenge I’ve decided to go with a real life theme instead of a fictional one. Only once have I ever had a nightmare where I’ve woken in a sweaty mess, bed sheets tangled around my limbs, struggling to breathe and scared half to death. And once is enough to last me a life time.
That isn’t to say I’ve never had a bad dream, there have been plenty of those, some frightened the bejesus out of me, but I seem to understand what they are and just ride them out. I’ve read a lot about sleep and dreaming as research for a novel and find the subject fascinating. I love the concept of lucid dreaming and yet being aware I am dreaming is something that eludes me.
And so, dear blog reader, I’d like to share a few of my dreams that have remained with me my entire life, from when I was young boy to the nightmare that hurt me a month ago. They are weird and scary and one that is downright funny…well, depending on your point of view!
During my primary school years, early 1980′s, I had a recurring dream about being chased by a beast I never saw but I knew exactly what it looked like. The beast was the size of a bear, with the same strength yet speed and cunning of a cheetah. It was a mass of spikes and dark sticky fur, razor sharp metal fangs and a growl that made my stomach clench up in terror. It was a sound that would have prompted my bladder to empty itself had I heard it when awake.
The beast is chasing me. I don’t know from where or why but it is also chasing my school friends. All I know is that it wants to get us, that alone is enough to bring the fear to full force, let alone thinking through the details of what “get” specifically entails. My friends and I appear in my Great Aunt Mary’s bungalow, how we got there I will never know, such is the randomness of dreams. Aunt Mary’s house has a peculiar smell, cabbages and liver and boiled ham. She has huge glass windows overlooking a long garden and in her living room are display cabinets of ornate glass and metal. Everything in her home feels transparent, the cabinets, coffee table, side tables, even a glass wall that separated the living room from the kitchen.
Not a well-chosen place to hide from the beast.