Sometimes I’m asked to critique a story, or a scene in a novel, that, despite being well written, is somehow kind of bland. There may be nothing wrong with it – the author communicates clearly, and uses concrete detail, and writes strong dialogue, and deploys a consistent and appropriate point of view, and doesn’t clutter her prose with adjectives or adverbs, and yet, somehow, the story or scene doesn’t leap off the page – it’s dull. One option is to make the characters more distinctive, more idiosyncratic, more unusual. But very often the solution is to take the characters and their conflict and transpose them into a distinctive micro world.
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.
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Why is it that bikinis are sexy and naturism isn’t? Why do we never get to see the Blair Witch? And who cares whether your protagonist has attached earlobes? D.D. Johnston discusses the importance of being selective when describing your fictional world.
Having talked previously about when you should and shouldn’t write in the first person, in this video D.D. Johnston considers dramatic irony and how you can add complexity by using a peripheral narrator or an unreliable narrator.