Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Dialogue #2

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"She's a menace," Tournbould stated, sensing Stanislav's hesitancy over what to do with the girl upstairs, "she should never have been given such authority at such a young age. You and I know that."
"Yes, but she's so gifted. I have never met the likes."
"Which makes her all the more dangerous. I doubt she could be sent back to the Arm she trained at. It's obvious they were unable to control her. Better to send her to Grishtok. Let Rurik deal with her."
"He won't like it. And it would reflect poorly on my own control that I need to send a girl of only nineteen to my Head to deal with. Better it is dealt with here. Make her an example," Stanislav said as he considered his dilemma.
"Why don't you mask her powers? Make her a servant and have her learn some humility?" Tournbould suggested, warming to the idea. "It would be a good example and word would spread that you didn't abandon her or make her homeless but kept her safe from herself and others safe from her."
"And what if she cracks?"
"The asylum-"

Stacia says:

Oh dialogue tags, dialogue tags, thou art the bane of my existence. Here's the problem with dialogue tags: they're telling, and they're usually redundant. Also, they break up the flow of the dialogue itself, so instead of people having a conversation they're uttering a line, then standing around waiting for the other person to speak, then waiting to speak again. That's how it can feel to a reader, anyway.

It's not your fault, writer. It takes a lot of work and confidence before you really feel comfortable ripping those dirty little things out of your book--I still write too many tags in my first drafts. You don't need to tell us Tournbould sensed Stanislav's hesitance over what to do, we probably know that by this point, and we know it from the dialogue. Don't tell us Stanislav is considering his dilemma, we know that because they're discussing it. Don't tell us Tournbould warmed to the idea, it's his idea so of course he likes it. Take those out and see how much more smoothly this reads. Also Tournbould's last full line should be two shorter ones, IMO, but since I've gone on about the dialogue tags I'll see if Jaye has any suggestions for the dialogue itself.

Jaye says:

Stacia makes an excellent point about telling via dialog tags. To break up the dialog try focusing on helping the reader see the scene and learn more about the characters. If one of them is frustrated, show us by having him clench his fists. Or pacing in front of a long, wooden table with a single candle burnt down to the numb. Except not those because they're lame. You know your story, so layer in some details that fit the tone and the characters.

I think you do a great job with the dialog itself. The word choices give us good information about who these characters are. That said, it could use some tightening. I don't want to mess with your voice, but take a look to see if you could say more with less words. People don't always speak in complete sentences. Also, try breaking some of the longer stretches into shorter sentences. Like the following:

"It would be a good example and word would spread that you didn't abandon her or make her homeless but kept her safe from herself and others safe from her."

"It would be a good example. Word would spread that you didn't abandon her. Instead you kept her safe--and others safe from her."

Breaking it up like that allows you to put more emphasis on important ideas, i.e. "..others safe from her."

Also, "she should never have been given such authority at such a young age." She should be capitalized. I also think "You and I know that" is unnecessary.

I'm intrigued by this, though. "The asylum--" Poor girl.

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Current roster: Mario Acevedo, Michele Bardsley, Sonya Bateman, Dakota Cassidy, Carolyn Crane, Molly Harper, Kevin Hearne, Mark Henry, Stacia Kane, Jackie Kessler, J.F. Lewis, Daniel Marks, Richelle Mead, Kelly Meding, Allison Pang, Nicole Peeler, Kat Richardson, Michelle Rowen, Diana Rowland, Jeanne C. Stein, K.A. Stewart, Anton Strout, and Jaye Wells