|Betsy Thorpe and Carin Siegfried|
"Two Editors and a Comma"
"Do I use quotes or italics when I write internal dialogue?"
"How does point of view impact dialogue?"
These are just a few of the questions which Betsy Thorpe and Carin Siegfried answered in their recent writing workshop.
Here are some of my takeaways:
- Italicize internal dialogue.
- Match dialogue to the tone of the scene.
- Practice writing dialogue to convey different meaning and/or circumstances between the speakers.
- Don't lecture; avoid "info dump".
- Weave dialogue together with narrative, the characters' actions, and their thoughts.
- Make sure each character sounds different. Use different words, idioms, and expressions. Create a style guide for each main character.
- "Said" is the invisible tag. Use it!
- You can't "laugh" a sentence. In other words, it can't be: "What a silly child you are," she laughed.
- Dialogue tags in the middle of a sentence makes it choppy. Don't write: "Are you," she asked, "coming with us?"
- Use an em dash when the speaker is interrupted.
- Action/description beats should vary within a story and be distinctive.
- Interior dialogue consists of nonverbal thoughts that a character wouldn't say out loud; self-analysis; or inner conflict. Interior dialogue is honest, reveals backstory, and shows a character's emotional state. It is best used when characters aren't saying what they truly mean.
I asked Carin to comment on a snippet of dialogue from my current draft. I wondered which of these two examples she liked better and why:
- Kate must be looking for clues too! Lillie’s heart beat hard. She forced her voice to stay calm. “Wonder what she’s doing up there?” she asked Frank.