Creative Dialogue Tags

Dialogue is my favorite part of writing. Previously I’ve talked a lot about dialogue tags and how the world has a conflicting view on how they should and should not be used.

He said, she said tags are the most common and should be used more than ‘creative tags’ but even he said she said should probably be used sparingly or only when necessary. Thus creative ones even less so. Why?  because our brains are trained to skip ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ it’s automatic, we don’t even think about it. And while the occasional creative tag is warranted too much slows the reader down and it becomes noticeable.

I generally use a mix of everything but primarily rely on conversation flow (Sans tags) or action tags. Action tags give the reader a clear vision of what the character is doing before or after what they said.

Some examples of creative dialogue tags:  (these come after he, she or the name of the character)

Said
Answered
Replied
Murmured
Mumbled
Whispered

Blurted
Complained
Snapped
Yelled
Agreed/Disagreed
Teased
Jested
Stuttered

You get the idea. Now here are some things spoken words or dialogue cannot do. I see these words on lists and in text and personally I try to make them action tags not dialogue tags or combine them.

Sighed
Cried
Sniffled
Growled
Moaned
Groaned
Snorted
Snickered
Laughed
Giggled

Yes, there are instances when one may growl out their words or cried while speaking but plopping it at the end will remove the emotion or tone from the sentence and come across as awkward. Simply saying ‘She growled’ after the dialogue might not read to others as it did you me in my head.

Example time.

“I don’t feel well.” Amber murmured.

Not terrible but not great either. This sentence has more potential than this.

Amber rubbed her stomach and murmured. “I don’t feel well.”

or if she’s moaning the words…

Amber rubbed her stomach. “I don’t feel well.” She murmured.

While not good for keeping the word count down, sometimes it’s more important to relay the message properly than to over simplify it. Apparently, the word sighed is a big one that gets used too much. While yes people do sometimes sigh while speaking it might read better if it’s not so lonesome at the end of the sentence.

“Go home then.” Scott sighed.

I’m trying to convey frustration and while he might sigh the word go and maybe home, it may also look like he sighed after the fact. Reader interpenetration.

Scott sighed. “Go home then.”

Scott absently looked up to the ceiling. “Go home then.” He said with a sigh.

In these situations when I really, really, really want to convey tone in dialogue I read it out loud a few times to make sure what I’m saying sounds like what I’ve actually written. The best way is to have someone else read it aloud to you.

I don’t mind ‘said’ but I definitely try to use them sparingly or appropriately. Every dialogue sentence does not need them.

“I don’t feel well” Amber murmured.
“Go home then,” Scott said.
Amber rubbed her stomach, opened her desk drawer and pulled out the bag of herbal tea Scott brought her as part of a gift. A week after he barged in on her at her apartment and scared her he gave her a gift basket of things to help with the morning sickness she still had bouts of. 
“I have too much work to do. I’ll just go make some tea and see if it helps.” Amber said.
“Good idea,” Scott said.
“I’ll be back in a minute. Do you want anything?” Amber asked.
“No thanks. You go take care of yourself.” Scott answered.
Amber grabbed her mug and with the tea in hand, she went to the staff room. Scott watched her leave barely containing the smile that did not match the malice in his eyes.

For me it’s too elementary with all that ‘said’ going on. I feel like the dialogue is separated from the action too. When I read I find it tedious I like to mix them.

Amber rubbed her stomach and murmured. “I don’t feel well.”
Scott absently looked up to the ceiling. “Go home then.” 
“I have too much work to do. I’ll just go make some tea and see if it helps.”
Scott watched her open her desk drawer and take out the bag of herbal tea.
“Good idea.” 
A week after he barged in on her at her apartment and scared her he brought her a gift basket of things to help with the morning sickness she still had bouts of. 
Amber grabbed her mug. “I’ll be back in a minute. Do you want anything?” 
“No thanks. You go take care of yourself.”
With the tea and mug in hand, she went to the staff room. Scott watched her leave barely containing the smile that did not match the malice in his eyes.

Sometimes when I’m rushing I’ll plop out dialogue in the, he said she said constantly way. Then I’ll go back and dress it up better in editing. While I love a good creative dialogue tag It’s a balanced blend of the classic ‘he said’ action tags, no tags and creative dialogue tags that will help a story flow. “IMO of course.” She said and winked.

My advice about creative dialogue tags.
Whether the person is murmuring, sighing or crying. Make it clear if it’s before, during or after the spoken words. Read out loud or have someone else read it to you. It helps.

-Sheryl

Related posts

How did that sound?

Tag! You’re it.

Show and tell

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Murmuration
Tea

Oh no! Not the not’s!

I’ve talked before about the really very weak adjectives that are used too often in my post ‘it’s really very unnecessary’. I thought I’d slink back to that subject to discuss the not so good adjective use. Something I’m guilty of doing.

This is worse than using weak adjectives such as really and very, it’s when I start using ‘not’ to say what isn’t opposed to saying what is.

For example;

It’s not hard. > It’s easy.
It’s not very tasty. > It’s gross. or It’s disgusting.
He’s not really mean. > He’s nice.
They’re not expired. > They’re fresh.
That isn’t hot. > It’s cold.

Even with my few examples of ‘not’ the really’s and very’s snuck in.
How would this look in my writing? I just happen to have an example.

Dale grabbed Amber from behind wrapping his arms around her waist and laughing when she yelped in surprise. 
“Crap Dale! You scared me half to death.” She said nervously as she turned around. “That was not nice.”
“You’re not paying attention today. It wasn’t hard to sneak up on you.” Dale kissed her tenderly then asked. “How was Scott today?” 
“He wasn’t mean. I think he regrets what he did and isn’t acting weird.” Amber frowned and looked away. 
“But?” Dale prodded.
“Scott wasn’t my problem today. I found out something about myself that was not flattering.”
Dale took her hand in his. “Let’s go back to your place and we can talk about it.”
Amber nodded, squeezed his hand and sighed contentedly as they started walking. (127)

I even had some contracted not’s in the form of Wasn’t, but not all of them have to go. Like with all things, moderation is key.

Dale grabbed Amber from behind wrapping his arms around her waist and laughing when she yelped in surprise. 
“Crap Dale! You scared me half to death.” She said nervously as she turned around. “You’re mean.”
“You’re distracted and easy to sneak up on.” Dale kissed her tenderly then asked. “How was Scott today?” 
“He was nice. I think he regrets what he did and is acting normal.” Amber frowned and looked away. 
“But?” Dale prodded.
“I found out something unflattering about myself.”
Dale took her hand in his. “Let’s go back to your place and we can talk about it.”
Amber nodded, squeezed his hand and sighed contentedly as they started walking. (112)

With some or all of not and it’s contractions highlighted such as I suggested in my post “well colour me silly” I was able to focus on them and remove the negative and redundancies. I also read the dialogue aloud and the not’s and whatnot’s did sound better removed or changed.

Not only did I fix some awkward naughty-not’s but I was able to do my favorite thing and reduce word count by 15 words. Not a huge number but a good start. I’m super guilty of this, so I add not and version

My advice about Not not-ting.
Highlight them and then proof read, if they are necessary or fit in perfectly then keep them. Otherwise I suggest cutting them out. 

-Sheryl

Related posts to this one that are worth a read.

Well colour me silly

It’s really very unnecessary

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

 Nervous

Lost in Μετάφραση

Writing alternate languages within a story can be tricky for many reasons. One, I never assume the reader knows what is being said and two, I never assume that the reader will bother to look it up and translate it.

Therefore if I use alternate languages in dialogue that I myself am not fluent in, (And I do) I follow these simple rules I set up for myself.

– I have another character translate
– I have narration translate (This is awkward to write and read IMO because it still
leaves the characters not knowing what was said)
– I have the speaker translate after speaking their native tongue
– I never translate and have someone comment on the rudeness of the speaker OR I
leave it mysterious if it fits into the scene
– I make sure body language, expression and action translate for me (This one is fun
and challenging to do)
– If both or all characters in the scene speak… say Spanish I might narrate that they
are speaking Spanish, put the dialogue in English and change the font to italic.

There are points in my books where a character who doesn’t or won’t speak English. There is always a purpose for it story wise and for my purposes it’s necessary for character development.

There are plenty of online translation tools out there, but how accurate are they? For fun if you go to one of them type in a simple sentence. Translate to another language then another and another then back to English and sometimes what you get is hilarious or illegible… so sometimes yes and sometimes no for accuracy.

(This example has not been edited/proofed by anyone who speaks/reads/writes Italian)

Valery rolled her eyes at Anne’s juicy work gossip. “I think you should quit and find a better job. That place is toxic.”
“Ogni sciocco vuole dare consigli.” Tony said under his breath reaching for his coffee. 
“Seriously?” Valery glared at Anne’s boyfriend.
“He said Every fool wants to give advice.” Anne elbowed Tony. “Don’t be rude.”
“Since when do you speak Italian?” Valery looked across the small diner table at Anne.
“Since I’ve been teaching her. Want to learn?” Tony said with a sly grin. “Sei bella e arroganteo.”
Valery crossed her arms. “And what pray-tel does that mean?”
Tony just smiled and sipped his coffee. 
Anne shook her head and chuckled, “He thinks your beautiful and arrogant.”
Valery grinned. “Spot on Tony.”

I do have french, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Latin in my stories. For now I’ve used multiple translation services to make sure they say what I want them to. Before I finish editing will fully intend on having someone who reads, writes and speaks those languages proofread them for me.

My advice about foreign language in writing.
Be careful and seek assistance if using a language you are not fluent in, otherwise what you meant to say could be lost in Lost in Μετάφραση (Lost in translation) 

-Sheryl

Other posts about dialogue

Conver(Conversation)sation

Conversing is easy…not!

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Translate
Juicy

We can just assume…

When I read other stories or write my own I try to pay attention. Lately I’ve been over describing things or including things that are just not necessary. We don’t need to constantly include the little things. Things that can easily be assumed or understood by the reader because it’s something everyone does.

Mundane tasks that are often over described:

Going to the bathroom (Gross)
Showering (unless this is a naughty scene or pertinent to the story leave it out)
Brushing teeth/grooming/makeup (Just mention it and move on, if at all)
Getting dressed/undressed (Apply same rule as showering)
Eating (Use this as an action tag sparingly or part of dialogue.)
Shopping (Unless a major plot turns here graze this)
Cleaning
Driving
Working
Working out/fitness

Most of the time these become redundant if the action or scene is solo. Where narrative takes over and little to no dialogue occurs.

Use general terms if you want to include the action but it’s not necessary to go into detail. IMO things like this are best done in past tense. By this point I would have already described her apartment so I wouldn’t go back into that. This paragraph is the transition from waking to going to work. While not completely necessary if I really wanted to include this I would have think and be considerate of the reader. I think sometimes as I write I tend to “tell all” and that might be condescending to a reader.

Anne scrubbed every inch of her skin with the rose scented soap. Once clean, she rinsed, turned off the water and stepped of the shower. She grabbed a soft white towel and began to pat dry her body. Anne wrapped herself with the towel and began blow-drying her hair. After brushing her dried locks, she went into her bedroom humming a chipper tune as she began selecting her clothes for the day. She slipped into her favorite grey slacks and light blue blouse. After buttoning the blouse, she made her way out to the kitchen to have some granola and yogurt before she headed out to work. (107)

This is pretty wordy. I have actually read books where the mundane is laid out as if I have no idea what happen

Clean and dried from her shower, Anne dressed in grey slacks and a light blue blouse. Whistling a chipper tune she padded out from her bedroom to find some breakfast before she headed out to work. (36)

71 words difference. That’s a lot. For me as a wordy writer taking out that surplus is a benefit. I still conveyed what she’s wearing, that she’s in a good mood, clean and ready for the day.

We can just assume the reader expects the characters have gone to the bathroom, brushed their teeth and put clothes on before leaving the house. Unless it’s really important keep it simple and to the point. The temptation to put those extra words in to beef up a story will backfire and bore the reader. Make your words count there is no replacement for good writing.

My advice about skipping or summarizing the simple tasks.
Sometimes somethings are best left unsaid and left to the readers imagination. Keep it simple in this case.

-Sheryl

Other talkative posts

Oops! What did I just say?

Shut your cake hole

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Replacement
Gray

Logically Speaking

I think a lot about talking. Specifically dialogue. Logically, dialogue should be logical, make sense and be straight forward. Maybe not so much.

Very rarely do I partake in or hear conversation that is precise to the point and logical. People are emotional creatures and must be written that way. The mood of the character (yes they have moods too) can easily influence a response to a question, request or statement.

This goes hand and hand with trivial talking. Stiff boring conversations, just don’t happen. People interrupt, they are sarcastic, mean, sly, witty and charming to name a few. Someone grumpy is more likely to snap a response or a bored person might miss the question altogether.

“Hi Dale do you have the edit on the Watch layout I sent you this morning?”

Dale sighed heavily and looked pointedly at the clock on the wall. “No Scott I don’t have it done yet. I need at least another thirty minutes to get it right. You said you needed it by three and it’s only quarter after two.”

“Okay that’s fine Dale. Can you print it out and put it on my desk when it’s done?”

Dale huffed and frowned at Scott. “That’s Rachel’s job not mine.”

“Could you do me the favor please? I need the final copy right away and Rachael is  swamped.”

“Yes I can print it out and bring it to you.” Dale nodded and went back to work. “I’ll just work my magic.”

Scott laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. “Thank you bud.”

“No problem pal.” Dale didn’t look up as Scott walked away.
(152)

Dale is usually more abrasive and neither are so formal with each other. I’ll take out any trivial talking and the oh so logical responses.

“Hey Dale, is the Watch layout finished?”

Dale sighed heavily and tapped his watch. “It’s only quarter after two, you said three.”

“Just checking, can you print it and drop it on my desk when you’re done?”

Dale looked up and smirked. “You want me to bring you coffee and rub your feet too?”

“That’d be swell.” Scott shook his head smiling. “Rachel’s swamped, do me a solid? I need it before three if you can manage.”

“Sure.” Dale shrugged and turned back to his monitor. “I’ll just pull my magic wand out of my ass.”

“Thanks bud.” Scott laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. “Just wash it before you use it.”

“No promises.” Dale didn’t look up as Scott walked away.
(123)

29 words removed(Word count is an obsession it seems and I would be very pleased with that number), a bunch of revamping on the attitude and responses and I think that’s more interesting than a logical conversation that would never happen between the two friends.  To much logical talk can make the conversation feel uneven, imbalanced or just awkward.
My advice about overly logical conversation.
Dialogue is not the place for disinfectant. Make it dirty, gritty and imperfect.

-Sheryl

Other interesting posts:

Crazy things

Quirky little quirks

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Uneven

Pleased

Don’t say my name!

Hello, my name is Sheryl. You probably already knew that, and if you didn’t then there it is for you. Names are important in writing. Choosing one is difficult and sometimes nerve-wracking. In writing the character name is used often in action and dialogue tags. It’s very important to identify the speaker or person involved.

But what about within dialogue? I thought about this a while. Like many things human, saying someones name while talking to them is a personal choice. Generally people will start a conversation with a greeting such as, “Hey Amber.” Some never say someones name… ever.  So how often does a person use the name of the person they are talking to, to the person they are talking to? Probably once, maybe twice and that second one would be. “It was great seeing you again Amber. Call me some time.”

Close friends might say each others name randomly during a conversation to make a point. “Seriously Amber you’re crazy.” Or “Wow Amber your hair has such a healthy shine.” or “Check it out Amber I got his number.”  There are people that really enjoy saying a name and will use them often. I have a character in BiaAtlas that will use a persons name regularly. He’s a teacher/instructor so it fits him a little better. He also speaks directly and often has a point to make. For him I make sure that he uses first names when in personal conversation and more often if he likes the person. I am also careful that others rarely address him by his name so it stands out.

Over use of a name within dialogue is not only superfluous but necessary. I do on occasion cheat and toss their name in to keep the flow of dialog for the reader to trip up the ‘action or dialogue tags’.

“Hey Amber you okay?” Dale stopped her in the hall, looked about to ensure they were alone and rubbed his hand on her arm.
She nodded with a frown. “Yes. I don’t know why I bother eating breakfast Dale. It’s such a waste of money.”
“How long does the morning sickness last Amber?”
“I don’t know Dale, forever?” She groaned and rolled her eyes.
“I left a present for you on your desk Amber.” He quickly kissed her forehead and continued down the hall.
She watched him go then made her way to her desk. A bottle of ginger-ale and a pack of soda crackers were in a small gift bag. Smiling she sat and cracked the bottle open.

That was definitely weird. Especially if read out loud. Now it was a short example so it was weirder than normal. I try to limit name use in dialogue, but even then I know I still over do it for realism.Now without the additives.

“Hey Amber you okay?” Dale stopped her in the hall, looked about to ensure they were alone and rubbed his hand on her arm.
She nodded with a frown. “Yes. I don’t know why I bother eating breakfast. It’s such a waste of money.”
“How long does the morning sickness last?”
“I don’t know, forever?” She groaned and rolled her eyes.
“I left a present for you on your desk.” Dale quickly kissed her forehead and continued down the hall.
She watched him go then made her way to her desk. A bottle of ginger-ale and a pack of soda crackers were in a small gift bag. Smiling Amber sat and cracked the bottle open.

Better. This wasn’t about word-count, just needed to be fixed.

I once knew a guy for 2 years. Spoke to him everyday on the way to work. After a while it was too weird to ask him his name even though he knew mine. I never ever knew his name.

My advice about Names in dialogue.
In dialogue use them sparingly and read the conversation out loud or have someone buddy read with you. If it sounds weird or unnecessary, it probably is.

-Sheryl

Other name related posts

What’s her name?

Who are you again?

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Shine

Don’t talk like me!

So I’m a newbie writer. By that I mean I haven’t been writing seriously for long. I’m bound to make mistakes, everyone is. One that I have to keep my eye on is writing individual dialogue. It is super-duper easy to write individual characters talking all the same… as I talk. For narrative it’s totally fine but characters, need their own voice. Even with the best of intentions I find it easy to forget the little things that keep that character unique.

So what do I do about it? I refer to my character bio’s often, where I keep specific details on each individual. I establish a clear voice in my head of how each person sounds. How they contract certain words, what jargon they use. Do they say yes or yeah. No or na. It doesn’t have to be a lot of differences for every character, but one or two distinct variations.

Here are some ways to make a character speak distinctly from others. (*Extreme suggestions should really be limited to one character)

  • Never contracts words*
  • Uses old-fashioned words such as indubitably, propitious and quiescent *
  • Says um or ah from time to time
  • Uses pauses for dramatic effect
  • Says Yes only or often uses Yeah
  • Uses similes all the time
  • Constantly uses metaphors
  • Never stops with puns(Must be well done and fit the scenario)
  • Jargon junkie
  • Says the word Like, like all the time.
  • Uses nicknames
  • Uses local dialect
  • Never swears (Could be cute about substituting “Holy Christmas that’s loud!”
  • Swears often or has a favorite swear word they use like a noun.
  • Calls everyone dear or hun
  • Geographical slang such as Y’all or Eh.

This list can go on and on. The point is to give each character a vocal quirk to make them unique from my own way of speaking. Now if you use a phrase or a character has a very unique verbal quirk, it’s fun to have someone else pick it up. As long as they or someone else point it out for fun. It needs to be addressed in a humorous way for it to make sense to the reader.

“Listen up everyone.” Terry waited for everyone’s attention. Scott clenched his jaw and forced himself not to groan. Amber bit her lip and looked at her newly fascinating pen. This was going to be a boring meeting.
Terry straightened his tie before continuing. “As you two are abundantly aware we are competing with Laverne and Associates to win the contract for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.”
Dale rolled his eyes to the ceiling. “You can just say RCMP.”
In Dale’s opinion Terry wasn’t the right designer for this high-profile project. Sasha should  be heading up this one or Scott. Dale let Valery know he wasn’t thrilled to be working with Terry.
“No I cannot.”
“Tight-ass Terry will sink this project faster than the titanic.” Dale muttered to Amber and she snickered behind her hand.
“Do you have something to say Dale?”
“Nope.” Dale cracked his neck from side to side. “Go on, dazzle us with your recycled ideas.”
Terry narrowed his eyes and clenched his jaw; this was the worst possible team.

Dale is a ‘Nope’ kind of guy because he’s brash, rude and often insubordinate. He uses it often but not to people he likes. Terry, well he’s the pompous blowhard unaware he has little talent of his own. He’s disrespected, so uses big words and speaks in what he perceives to be smart.

My advice about character dialogue quirks.
It is extremely important for your character to stand out from the others and the narrative. Even if it’s just a little. Put thought into it and if the character is from a region you’re not familiar with do some research to find out if there is a local dialect or saying used. 

-Sheryl

Other posts:
Oops! What did I just say?

It’s really very unnecessary

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved
Specific

Talking Trivial

Dialogue is important. Without it the entire novel would be a meaningless narrative. Yawn.  But why is writing dialogue so challenging? There are many reasons and I’ve touched on a few, but this time the reason isn’t trivial.

Trivialities in conversation can draw out a scene necessarily. It’s also mind-numbing boring. There are a few reasons trivialities in dialogue suck. One, nobody, and I mean nobody talks like that. Maybe in old sit-coms from the 50’s. Two, it’s probably filler conversation with no actual impact on the story. Three, if you’re watching that word count (even if you’re not) trivial conversation will kill the numbers.

So what do I mean? Let me demonstrate.

Dale sat at his desk in a slump. “Good morning Amber.” 
“Oh good morning Dale.” Amber replied and smiled.
“Did you have a good night last night?”
“Indeed I did, thank you for asking.”
“Was it better than the night before?”
“Yes, it was much better than Saturday night. And how was your night?”
“It was good.” Dale nodded and turned his computer on.
“Oh? What did you do Dale?”
Dale leaned back in his chair facing Amber. “I watched the game with Scott.”
“That’s good that you watched the game with Scott. Did you have a bit too much to drink?” Amber said while swiveling her chair from side to side
“I definitely had too much to drink for a Sunday night. Did you have time to think over our conversation from Friday?”
“I did think things over quite a bit and I have decided.”
“And what did you decide Amber?”
“I have decided to date you.”
“That’s good to hear, so you will give me a real chance?”
“Yes. I will give you a chance. We do have good chemistry.”
“I agree completely Amber. We do have good chemistry.”
“Dale, would you like to go for lunch today?”
“Yes. I would very much like to for lunch today.” Dale faced his computer as Valery approached.
(217)

Did you notice it? Even as I wrote that I was cringing from the repetitiveness. Make that four reasons trivialities are dull to read. Trivial conversation is a complete waste of space and if I come across it in a book my eyes float over the words skipping them or stop reading. It’s hard to focus on a story.  The other annoying aspect is neither have any character, its dry, dull and monotone. Nothing happened other than they chatted about Sunday night and made lunch plans. I think I’ll tidy that up a smidge.

Dale sat at his desk in a slump. “Good morning Amber.” 
Amber smiled. “Oh morning Dale.”
“Were you able to sleep better last night?” Dale turned his computer on.
“Yes thank God.” Amber rolled her eyes. “What’d you get up to? You look like hell warmed over.”
Dale leaned back in his chair facing Amber as she swiveled her chair side to slide. “Yeah, I watched the game with Scott and polished off a six-pack.”
Amber shook her finger at him as if he were naughty. “Tisk, tisk, on a Sunday no less.” 
“I’m paying the price. So did you decide?”
She nodded and glanced around surreptitiously. “You’ve proven we have chemistry so yes,” Her eyes darted about again. “We can be exclusive.”
He grinned.
Amber tilted her head slightly. “Lunch?” She shuffled her chair back into her desk.
“You bet.” He spied Valery approaching and turned to face his computer.
(151)

Whew, 66 words removed. Trivialities really do add the extra weight to the word count. Dale and Amber are not stiff nor are they proper. Therefore slang, jargon and comfortable interaction is necessary. There were only a few things I needed the reader to know, It’s Monday, Amber’s not sleeping well, he’s concerned, she decided to date him and he’s happy about it.

My advice about trivial writing.
Warm it up and relax the dialogue by letting the characters have the reins. Just make sure to keep it individual to the character speaking.

-Sheryl

Other posts I’ve written

Karma. It really is a B*tch

The secret’s out

Copyright © 2016 All rights reserved

 Float
Meaningless

Hold your tongue!

I’ve talked about blabbermouths and chatty people in Shut your cakehole. I’ve discussed keeping dialogue out of scenes for logical reasons in Shhh don’t say a word. There are times when I feel dialog needs to be left out to make a point or establish a characters frame of mind.

When it comes to people, there are those that are quieter than others are. They speak less frequently and often only contribute when there is something important or witty to say. These are the characters that impart wisdom and random insights that can stun others, change the direction of the story or even provide a key observation to move the plot forward. There are also those that for extenuating circumstances clam up and have little or nothing to say.

For these people I will write them in a conversation by an appropriate action. Especially if the conversation is contrary to their personality. If the conversation is annoying to them I might have them roll their eyes, then have a chatty chipper person call them out only to respond with a mere shrug.

“I can’t believe that happened!” Valery raised her hand to cover a giggle.
Anne leaned closer to Sasha and Valery. “I know right?”
“Of all people, he flirts with Sash.” Valery grinned at her frowning friend. “You little minx you.”
“For someone dressed for Sunday school you sure are getting a lot of attention tonight.” Anne glanced at the handsome man named Balor the first of two to flirt with Sasha and downed a tequila shot. She and held one out for Sasha who waived it away.
Valery giggled again then leaned into Sasha. “That Cal guy was totally trying to get your attention, and the other one, a smidge weird, but still into you.”
Sasha rolled her eyes and glanced over at Cal. He smiled, she looked back at the shooter Anne held in front of her face and gently pushed it away.
Valery set her drink down hard on the table. “Oh common Sash, lighten up you need to move on already.”
Sasha pursed her lips, narrowed her eyes and stalked off to the restroom.
“Should we go after her?” Anne downed Sasha’s tequila shot.
“Nah.” Valery waved her hand in Sasha’s direction. “She needs a dose of reality.” “Or a good lay.” Anne burst out laughing.

 Not talking doesn’t mean Sasha is always this way, she is in an uncomfortable situation and her friends are being pushy and loud. It is a good way to show her annoyance and impatience, set the tone for her pending character development, and maybe hint at a backstory.

My advice about silence in dialogue.
It can be a very good way to bring depth to a character, or prepare them for their journey of self-discovery or change. Alternatively, it can be a good personality trait. Either way, don’t forget that not everyone has to participate in the conversation.

-Sheryl

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Shut your cake hole

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