self-publishing · writing

What’s So Hard About Dialogue? Let’s talk Rewriting While We’re At It!

I’m trying really hard to blog at least once a week on my WordPress site. Not easy, given I now have another blog on my Website, I’ve got two FB Pages, one regular blend and the other Author! Then there’s my Twitter, where I connect with a good few great writers and authors and find out many a thing I didn’t know about the self-publishing world, oh, and sometimes just to chat about writing, projects and the like. I’ve also joined The Scriptorium, the joint endeavor I believe I’ve mentioned in a previous post, where me and a few other writerly types have decided to embark on a combined venture into a possible Anthology, and also some Flash Fiction, competitions, and a few other projects we’ve got stowed up our various sleeves! As well as my usual housework duties, family, pets, and all that, time is starting to run a bit thin on the ground for me!

However, I did suggest I’d be posting a section on Dialogue and Rewriting. That time has now come…So, here goes!

Something a little personal, is the fact that I don’t always find dialogue an easy thing to accomplish. When I first started out my characters were cardboard like, shallow and shall we say, a bit predictable. Naturally, there conversations followed a similiar pattern, and while I can read a few things from my older works, much of it makes me cringe with writing shame.

I’ve learnt a lot since I dared to think myself even capable of writing a short story, never mind an actual novel! It’s been over ten years now since I first started, there was no real market for self-publishing, except Vanity Press and DIY style. We didn’t have internet, which somedays I think was a blessing, as I certainly got a lot more work done before all that distraction came along. I have picked up a whole load of tips, though, and I’ve got many people I consider friends on FB and Twitter who are also writers and authors. They’ve helped me considerably in honing my craft as it were!

My writing style is somewhat short, sharper, and more to the point. I don’t like to cram in endless paragraphs of description or backstory, but rather filter it throughout the story as I go along! This is a practise I follow with dialogue. I’ve picked up a few handy tips, such as cutting out unnecessary words, including Just and So…oh, yeah and Even…! How to make a conversation more realistic by shortening words. For instance…’How did you do that?’ Becomes ‘How’d you do that?’ It flows in a way people talk, unless of course your character is a pompous sort and speaks very proper that could be a character trait!

As for Rewrites? Well, I dread them, but below is a bit of advice I picked up from Creatspace, by Richard Ridley an award-winning author and paid Createspace contributor. It goes something like this…

1/ PLOT PURPOSE Does the material move the plot forward or shed light on certain story elements that solidify the foundation of the plot?

2/ CHARACTER PURPOSE Does the material give relevant insight into aspects of the character? Does it give your character depth that steers away from cliches? Does it provide a compelling piece of character development that is unexpected and new, without being distracting?

3/ SETTING PURPOSE Does the material set the proper mood? Does it paint a picture that fits the theme and genre of the story? Does it break the rules without disrupting the story?

4/ DIALOGUE PURPOSE Is the material necessary? Some dialogue is used as an ‘exploratory’ device. Meaning, when it was first written it may have been connective tissue for an upcoming subplot or character revelation. In a lot of cases, those future elements never materialise or are eliminated. Be on the lookout for these holes.

5/ SUBPLOT PURPOSE Is your subplot a minor detour from the story or a complete detour? If it’s too far removed from the plot, it’s doing more harm than good.

The last bit of advice from Richard Ridley, “Rewriting is a much harder process than writing. It should be, you’re applying logic to an artistic endeavor. You have to be ruthless in your cuts. Applying a ‘purpose’ rating may help you look at your story more objectively.”

Hope this and my accompanying rambling has helped!!

Thanks for reading! 🙂

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