The word is...
Dialogue came to mind as today's topic after hearing last night about a man in the Halifax area who has a blog. He rides a bus to and from work, and blogs about people, his impressions of them, and more importantly, overheard conversations. What a great idea...I'd love to read it.
We all eavesdrop from time to time, don't we? It's hard to avoid it these days with cell phones being answered in every place from doctor's waiting rooms to a VIA train car. Not only answered, but the conversation seldom drops a respectful octave or two. So, the cell phone user doesn't care who hears the conversation. Fair game. Take note and maybe it will fit into a conversation in your book.
Dialogue has to read real. So what better way then to use actual word patterns, pauses, and yes, you should also make note of the mannerisms. If you get to listen in long enough, you can also pick up on word usage -- what's the person's favourite word -- and even dialect.
The trick is not to put in anything that slows the reader down. Too much dialect and you've lost them...unless you're a terrific writer like Australian Peter Temple.
Y'all know by now that my series is set in Alabama. How not to drive the readers nuts but still remind them of where this is set? That's the question. I try not to overuse expressions such as 'y'all' but it is authentic. Emails I get from Southern writers can attest to that.
That's my way of dealing with that particular aspect of dialogue. And, I admit to the occasional eavesdropping. All with the purest of intentions, of course.
The best advice I've ever heard about dialogue is to read your book out loud. Does the dialogue sound like an actual person is speaking? Let's hope so.
There's a lot to think about with this thing called dialogue. What works best for you?
Linda Wiken/Erika Chase
A Killer Read coming April, 2012
from Berkley Prime Crime