Writing Books/dialogues

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Question
hi, I'm trying to write an espionage book, and I'm going on well with the first three chapters, but I have a problem with inventing dialogues: they sound silly and can be taken for granted. how can I do to put emphasis in them? how can I make them spontaneous?

thank you! giulia

Answer
Giulia:

I want to preface this by saying that your question is really very broad, and impossible to answer well in this sort of forum.  I really would suggest you pick up a book on dialogue writing, or at least a general book on fiction writing with a solid section on dialogue, because it truly is such a complex subject.

That being said, let me toss a couple things your way:

First, remember that the main purpose of dialogue is to reveal character.  It's not to provide plot detail (although inevitably there will be some information and mood and such conveyed).

Also, remember that dialogue comes about as the result of a situation; dialogue does not create the situation.

In fiction, there are no discussions, conversations, or exchanges of information.  There are only confrontations between characters.  This doesn't mean arguments, though.  It can be polite and careful, but it must be one character attempting to get something from another… to get someone to do something she doesn’t want to do or to attempt to make something happen.

And my recommendation to you for seeing how dialogue should be done would be to go to the movies.  Dialogue in most decent films is well-done.  (By comparison, dialogue on television is often terrible.)

Hope this is helpful.

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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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