And it's time to be back!!! The blog is looking a bit more normal again. We're getting back into routine after all the holiday buzz and, ahem, silence... :D Today's guest post is by my friend Mime from Notebook Sisters. Enjoy!!!!
Dialogue is my favourite part of reading. And writing. Maybe In my opinion, a snappy, realistic, or heart-wrenching dialogue can tilt the scale from ‘another book on the shelf’ to ‘good old favourite.’
Some books just nail it. Like Ranger’s Apprentice (John Flanagan). The plot is... not exceptional for most of the books. You could even say it’s Lord of the Rings come general fantasy/medieval-ness. And yet... I still have fond memories of reading all eleven books. Why? The dialogue. The characters are great, sarcastic, and tease each other mercilessly. That’s exactly the sort of humour that appeals to me—I love sarcasm in dialogue.
Also, a normal voice helps. I am awed by people like Tolkien who can have extensive dialogue passages in “thee’s” and “thou’s” and really long sentences. I think they must be very patient. But personally, I prefer reading normal, conversational tones. This usually comes across with more modern books—contemporaries, dystopian, or just ones set in the current/future world. The Gallagher Girls series (Ally Carter) is a perfect example. Every girl in the spy school talks like a normal teenage girl. It makes the book easy to read, and I identify with the characters better.
But that’s not to say you have to have your 18thcentury courtiers talking modern slang. In Johnny Tremain (Esther Forbes), they manage to speak clearly and understandably. The sentences don’t go on forever, and even though it feels a bit more old-fashioned, you still get the same love for the characters’ voices.
To me, dialogue needs to be spread throughout the book generously. It’s so much fun to read. While you can’t have the whole thing being dialogue, I think it makes things come across easier than a lot of narrative, which I tend to find quite boring. Too much narrative, and I yawn, and say, “I’m sorry, but I got lost a while back.” Dialogue can make me laugh or cry, or just plain enjoy the book more. Of course, on the flip side, if there’s too much dialogue, I say, “What is going on here?” There’s a good medium, and it’s different for every story.
Dialogue’s important for letting the reader get to know the characters, particularly in 3rd person. The way someone talks tells a lot about them—the way they were brought up, the way they think of things, their common phrases, their nationality, or their amount of talkativeness. I know that if there’d been no dialogue in Detectives in Togas (Henry Winterfeld) I would have had no idea who was who. Dialogue defines characters, and that, I think, is why it’s really important.
I think the trick to good dialogue is making sure your character's voice is strong, and that their personality shines through the way they talk.
What are some of your favourite books for the dialogue aspect?