Friday, May 15, 2009

Dialogue

When we write dialogue, we want to copy the everyday. If we're writing a story about two teenage girls(which I am) we want to sound like teenage girls. We don't want to sound like a seventy year old man. The dialogue in my story has come easy for me. I try to listen to teen girls whenever I can.

Has anyone ever heard of David Mamet? He is a playwright who writes natural speech. He writes how we really speak. If you ever get the chance, you should watch some Mamet. Really watch. It helps me to understand how we talk. You wouldn't want to write your dialogue like this, but it helps us understand things better. The rhythm of our speech without the, "um" words and the "oh" words. You strip that part away, but listening to real speech helps you to understand it, and you get an ear for dialogue.

I learned about Mamet from Magical Words
Any other tricks out there on writing dialogue, y'all would like to share? :)

12 comments:

  1. Most people don't say everything that's in their head. That's something I learned. Sometimes there's a lot of power in what your characters DON'T say that can move your dialog forward. Or make what they do say more powerful.

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  2. I love to listen to my children's conversations while I'm driving. And when I have their friends with us in the car, it gets even more hysterical.

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  3. Elana, I have discovered that I don't try to tell everything that my characters are thinking. I leave it to my readers imagination--when I get readers that is! :)Well, I do have a reader, Beth!

    Amy, it is a lot of fun to listen when they don't think you're listening,isn't it? Fun stuff! :)

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  4. I like a little bit of wit and sarcasm sprinkled in dialogue and aim for that with some characters.

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  5. Tess, I love some sarcasm and clever words too!:)

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  6. I've heard over and over again that dialog is nothing like real speech, that it's a completely artificial construction. That has freed me in many ways. I tend to be drawn to "fake" speech, works where the dialog is an exaggeration of real speech, or where the dialog is completely original, like a novel metaphor or a new form of art. I like how Shakespeare manages to convey real and deep human emotions even though the characters are speaking in completely unnatural speech. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf does this well too, as does the recent movie, Closer.

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  7. Dialogue: talk of any kind between two or more people. Davin, I think you hit the nail on the head. Shakespeare is a prime example of unnatural speech. In high school when forced to read Shakespeare, I hated it. Now, I finally get why the teachers wanted us to read his works. :)

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  8. Magical Words is awesome!

    Dialogue can be so fun, but I don't think it imitates life too much. Often when we have a conversation in RL, we go off on tangents, or have conversations that don't ever go anywhere. Dialogue can be a wonderful tool for propelling things forward in a story.

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  9. Agreed Danyelle. Dialogue moves things along! Unlike our, um, and oh and filler words that we use. :)

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  10. Not one of my favorite things to write, mainly because of punctuation. When I do write dialogue I must force myself to write the conversation and who said what first. The last thing I tackle is punctuation.

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  11. I remember the first time I saw a Mamet play many years ago and was struck by the language. Robert Duvall was starring in "American Buffalo" in 1977. It's stuck with me all these years.
    P.S. No, I don't have a fabulous memory, but I've saved Playbills from many of the plays I've seen.

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