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Question
Hi,

I think you remember me. As you know, I've never started finished my novel for a long time because of my biggest weakness. It is that I'm very poor in dialogue writing or the words said by a character so how should I work on that?

Thanks

Answer
Hi, Jem.  Nice to hear from you again.

Dialogue is definitely tricky. Most novice writers are bad at it for one of two reasons: either they don't write dialogue the way people really talk, or they write it too much like people really talk.

Here are some examples.

I've seen many young writers use names way too often in dialogue. Addressing the other person by name nearly every time a line is spoken.  In real life, we almost never use the other person's name.

On the other side, people are lazy talkers. We say "um" and "uh" all the time, and things like that. Some writers think that capturing dialogue totally accurately (including the ums and uhs) is good.  It's not.  It's awful to read.

Dialogue should be concise.  And remember what the purpose of dialogue is.  It is NOT to convey the plot.  The purpose of dialogue is to bring your characters alive.  So don't use dialogue to "tell the story."

A good way to get the feel for good dialogue is to watch good movies. There's some good dialogue on television, but there's a lot more bad dialogue there, too.  Movies, though, usually do pretty well with dialogue.  

Keep it short.  Keep it concise.  And make sure it expresses character.

Hope that's helpful.

Vince

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Vincent M. Wales

Expertise

I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.

Experience

For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

Education/Credentials
BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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