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Description & Effective Dialogue

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Old 04-23-2016, 09:35 PM
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Default Description & Effective Dialogue


I like stories that are character driven. To achieve that goal, writers can create characters that utilize effective dialogue. Good dialogue is vital because it characterizes the speaker, establishes the setting, builds conflict, and foreshadows events. Those same goals can also be achieved through description. What do you prefer? Are stories better told through dialogue than description?

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Old 04-24-2016, 03:02 AM
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One is as good as the other.
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Old 04-24-2016, 01:44 PM
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It's not an either/or thing. They both serve a purpose and can be used in varying amounts, depending on the story.

How does it even occur to someone to ask a question like this?
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Old 04-24-2016, 02:10 PM
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I prefer a mixture of both, sometimes it is just not possible to get an effective good concept of what is happening in a story with just dialogue. but one of your characters (first person, present) could "talk to himself" or go into a long winded narration and a good description could be captured through his words.

third person and Omni are easier - but not near as much fun.

and you can and most of the time do have a character driven piece when you write in first person present, no matter whether it has dialogue or not. just remember if you write first person present then the only story to be told is what your character experiences; and given his personality and back ground - how he sees the situation determines his reaction. You have to have the character well defined in your mind and you have to stay in character all the way through the story (character arc considered)


just my thoughts


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Old 04-24-2016, 02:57 PM
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Combination. Body language is just as important for building a character as dialogue is.
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Old 04-24-2016, 09:14 PM
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Hi CDawson.

Once I go through the many ways to make the character real in my mind, that is, programming my subconscious, (bios, interviews, descriptions, BG) my greatest pleasure in writing is letting them be themselves by talking and actions.

They seem so real to me that long after I've completed a story I can imagine them in new stories, or in my life situation and I'd know what they have to say about it.

I find it hard work to spend a lot of time describing anything because it's boring to write, and I assume, to read.

My first training was as a playwright where the entire story has to live inside the dialogue. Following stage plays I began to write screenplays. Then I turned to fiction.

Often when sharing work here on WB suggestions are made that it's 'too lean and mean'. They want more description. I've rewrote some of these stories to include more details of setting, let it sit awhile, read it again and then took out most of the boring details I had added.

I finally decided that 'lean and mean' is the style I've been cursed or blessed with and to relax.

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Old 04-24-2016, 11:04 PM
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Hello wrc -

I also tend to write lean and mean. My first training was in journalism. A good example of lean and mean is the lead. The journalist prioritizes information and fits those facts into a lead that can be 25-40 words.

In addition, my background in journalism has helped me write business proposals. People in the corporate world don't like to read verbose documents. Lean and mean is what they want to read. I hope your writings go well. Thank you for your thoughtful response to this topic.
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Last edited by CDawson; 04-25-2016 at 12:37 PM..
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Old 04-25-2016, 12:39 PM
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Hi CDawson

In my earlier post I should have mentioned my past journalism BG. Once I began my education I had the chance to be co editor of a weekly college newspaper. I loved it. And the writing skills I learned I still use in everything I write. No matter the story, considering the 5 Ws and the H always clarifies the elements of the story. It stood me in good stead with stage plays, screenplays and now fiction. i consider the ‘rules’ of journalism worthy of following.

I’m a Hemingway fan. His dispatches from WW2 were well done because of the clarity on the sequence of facts. Then he began writing fiction. That clarity of what the story was about remained in his fiction. But he added the human elements.

Sometimes he took the lead in a new story and let it function as the conclusion to the same story in fiction (see his The Killers). I often use that technique in my stories by calling attention to the issue under consideration and the story is told to explain that issue.

BTW, I took a look at your website. I was extremely impressed. I would suggest that all members of WB give it a read. The clarity is amazing and there was no ‘hype’ to con clients. I even ran across POVs that I hadn’t considered before and so I learned a few things.

Since I plan to put up a website to sell cyber copies of the best of my work I’m considering signing up. I would have done so, then and there, but my income is fixed with little left over since I’m an expat surviving in Mexico because of the exchange rate. Hmm… Any advice?

Maybe we could barter a trade… I owned and ran a film/tv production company for over 20 years and understand business. You can PM me if there’s a violation of WB rules for us to talk about this. (?)

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Old 04-25-2016, 01:14 PM
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I'm also a big fan of Hemingway's work. I have a copy of The Complete Short Stories of Ernest Hemingway, and I've read every short story. Regarding The Killers, it is one of my favorite stories. Out of Season is an excellent story as well.

Thank you for the kind words regarding my website. I wrote all of the website content, and I also wrote some of the code. I've put a lot of time and effort into my website. You mentioned bartering a trade. What do you have in mind? You can PM me to further discuss this topic. I look forward to hearing from you.
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Last edited by CDawson; 04-25-2016 at 03:29 PM..
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Old 04-25-2016, 08:41 PM
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Hello wrc -

How are you tonight? I hope all is well. Everything is well here. It could be better. I need some advice. Considering your background with stage plays, could you recommend a good play and a good playwright? I hope to hear from you soon. I'm looking for some good reading material.

I need some clarifications regarding your previous posts. I'm not sure what you mean when you said "I'm considering signing up." Signing up for what? I'm not sure how I could help. I'm also unsure why you said "You can PM me if there’s a violation of WB rules for us to talk about this." What rules would we be violating? I want to stay within WB guidelines. You'll have to explain to me the rules we could be violating. Take care.
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Old 04-28-2016, 11:32 PM
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Every writer has a weakness. Some are less obvious, but with so many movies made out of books we get to see just how much of the dialogue actually sounds horrid out loud.

Every writer has a weakness. Every single one.

Some of them write around it. Some work their arse off to try and compensate.

Dialogue is a biggie. Loads of people can't write it well enough but write fabulous books anyway.

Stilted dialogue is almost unforgivable, however, so they have to really work at it, rewrite a lot.

I don't agree the character driven is purely this, either. Narrative can be so pleasing.
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