Saturday, December 20, 2008

Make Sure Your Dialogue Sparkles

This time of year everything is sparkling. The silver and gold ribbon on our wreaths, the metallic gift wrap, and even the decorations adoring our homes.

I love things that sparkle, and the one I like best is dialogue. In a romance, witty repartee between the hero and the heroine brings their chemistry to life. It is one thing to say they are opposites that attract, for instance, but quite another to show it through their actions and conversation.

How can you be sure your dialogue sparkles, and doesn’t fall flat? Here are a few tips:

Cut the chit chat. If it doesn’t move the story forward, cut it. If you mention the weather, for example, it better be because a storm is moving in and is going to strand your hero and heroine together. Go through your manuscript and make sure each piece of dialogue is absolutely necessary.

Omit unnecessary tags. Keep your dialogue tags to a minimum. It’s better to show who is talking through action, and even to some extent dialect. Too many tags distract the reader. And, while we’re on the subject of tags, I would suggest using simple tags whenever possible. The reader doesn’t really notice “said” and “asked.” And those simple tags distract a reader less than “intoned” or “demanded.” Certainly, there are times when something more descriptive is needed. But, use descriptive tags less frequently than the old standbys. Rely on the dialogue itself to make your point.

Show their growing attraction. Sexy, fun dialogue makes a manuscript sizzle. (Even a sweet romance should show romantic tension.) Work on developing the romance with their conversation—or even better, with what they are not saying. It can be very intriguing to read a conversation where what isn’t being said is more important than what is. It makes the reader feel like they’re in on a special secret shared by only the character and the reader.

Use strong words. Make sure your word choices are strong for maximum impact. You don’t want to use boring words. Boring words=boring dialogue.

So, this holiday season, make sure your dialogue is one of the items sparkling.

Happy Holidays!

Renee Lynn
Editor--Champagne Line
The Wild Rose Press

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