Since I’m busy catching up on my word count, I asked Jill Horn to step in for me this week. Jill is the author of the novella, “A Change of Heart,” as well as several nonfiction articles. For today’s topic, she wanted to discuss how she writes dialogue in her fiction.
Dialogue. How do I put this in my stories? This is something that I have found difficult when writing fiction. In the past, I wrote mostly nonfiction; so when I started writing fiction, I found it difficult to write for everyone in the book and make everyone sound different. There are some things I’ve done to help myself write better dialogue in my stories.
The first is to pattern a character’s speech after someone I know. When I’m writing a story and one of the characters in the story is similar to someone I know, then I try to make that character sound like the person I know. I also try to think of people I know who have a distinctive way of speaking. If I have spent a lot of time with someone, then it is easier to think of what that person would say in a situation. So I usually try to pattern a character’s speech after people I know really well and have spent sufficient time with. This technique is especially helpful if there are characters in my story that are based on people I know who also know each other in real life. I then know how they talk to each other.
Another technique that is similar is to base a character’s speech on a certain type of personality. When I make the character sketches for those in my story, if that character is not based on a person I know, then I try to think of that character as a certain personality type. There are several personality descriptive tools that are available. The Colors of Personality is one I have used, where you can read the different personality descriptions. As you write your character sketches, you can write down if the person is a blue-red, for instance. Then when writing dialogue for that person, think of how a blue-red would talk (maybe think of a blue-red you know) and write that way.
Dialogue is only part of the story though. Usually a good story flows between action, dialogue and thoughts. Sometimes, I write the dialogue only and then add in the actions, thoughts, and punctuation later. One book I have found very useful is “Write Great Fiction – Dialogue” by Gloria Kempton. Some of the ideas I’ve suggested come from her book.
Thank you so much, Jill! Click here to visit Jill’s website, where you can learn more about her book. The site also contains information about chemical-free Shaklee products, which I use to clean my home and stay healthy. If you have any thoughts on dialogue or questions for Jill, please leave a comment!