Stylised & naturalistic dialogue: writing dialect & accents (tip 55) Reply

Do you write stylised dialogue or naturalistic dialogue or something in between? What are the benefits and pitfalls of writing dialects and accents? Should you use phonetic spellings? If you do want your dialogue to be close to spoken language, what techniques can you employ to make conversations sound natural? D.D. Johnston takes a look at the tricky business of writing different voices.
read video transcript

Using reported speech to avoid writing boring dialogue (tip 34) Reply

Unless you’re a certain type of Californian, the question ‘How are you?’ isn’t designed to solicit and in-depth answer. Rather, like much of our spoken communication, it’s designed to merely perform some social task – it’s an example of what linguists call a ‘phatic expression.’ Other conversations are mundane, and the information they contain is only important to the participants – it may matter to Jack what time Jill will get home from the dentist, but it’s not a conversation that would entertain an eavesdropper. When writing dialogue in fiction, we normally want to cut out as much phatic and mundane speech as possible, so that only the interesting stuff remains. One of the best ways to do this is by using reported speech.

read video transcript

Dialogue tags editing exercise to accompany writing tip 33 Reply

Dialogue tags exercise imageAfter watching Writing Tip 33, you might want to have a go at this writing exercise. Just click on the image to open the exercise and then clean up the dialogue tags to improve the excerpt. For comparison, the published version follows further down the document. As always, please let us know how you get on.