The Importance of Dialogue in Plot Development ~~ by Kate McGinn

The Importance of Dialogue in Plot Development ~~ by Kate McGinn

Dialogue — can you picture a story without it? Most stories have chapters or scenes without dialogue, and an example of a book without any dialogue from the main characters is the animal story, An Incredible Journey.

So, yes, it can be done and successfully, but dialogue plays an important role in a story. Humans communicate with more than dialogue. Their actions, tone of voice, what they say and how they say it as well as what they don’t say all communicate something about the message they want to convey or perhaps what they are reluctant to say.

One important role of dialogue in a story is that wherever it occurs it should move the story forward. The following excerpt is from my book, Winter’s Icy Caress, and I’ve used it to show an example of how dialogue moves a story forward.

“What are you reading?” Wyatt asked while surveying the contents of the refrigerator. He lifted the half gallon of milk in a mock toast before tipping it back for a drink. She knew he drank from the milk jug because it irritated her. One corner of her mouth turned up.

“There was another abduction. A Chippewa woman. Have you heard anything about this?” She scanned the article for more information.

“No. I don’t think Dave’s involved yet. The local authorities would still oversee the investigation until they decided to bring in the FBI. Do you know either of the women?”

Clare’s forehead furrowed, and she shook her head as she continued to read about the Wind disappearance. “The latest woman’s name is Sara Wind. I wonder if she’s related to Alana.” Wyatt looked over her shoulder at the newspaper photo.

“Not the best photo. I know Alana when I see her, but I’ve never talked to her. Maybe Loretta knows.” Wyatt grabbed a glass from the cupboard and poured the remaining milk into it before stealing a slice of peanut butter toast from Clare’s plate. She slapped his hand. He gave her a saucy grin before taking a big bite of toast.

“I think I’ll ask her when we have dinner tonight.”

In this example you meet two characters — Clare and Wyatt. The dialogue between them moves the reader further into the story as we learn about the disappearances of women in the Bayfield area. We are also introduced to other characters during their conversation: Dave – who is connected to the FBI, Sara Wind – the missing woman, and Loretta – the woman they will have dinner with that evening.

In a few sentences we find out Clare is concerned about the news, wants to know more information about the disappearances and plans on asking her friend that evening. The dialogue moves us into the next scene, but what isn’t said while they are conversing tells us another story about the couple and their relationship.

This next example from Empty Chairs, Empty Promises offers an example of how dialogue can define character. What the character says, the words they use, their tone reveals who they are as well as their relationship to the other character. Dialogue changes dynamics in the story by creating emotional responses to what is being said.

“Mom, I don’t understand you! You sell our family home and now you want to go alone to who knows where…” Carrie argues over the phone with me.

“Puerto Rico. That’s where I’m going,” I correct.

“What are you talking about? Traipsing off in some type of mid-life crisis, it’s ridiculous. I’m embarrassed one of my friends will find out how demented you are!” Carrie isn’t going to let up and frankly, I’m getting tired of the tirade.

“Young lady, I’m your mother, and I won’t have you talking to me like this. I’m not having a mid-life crisis. I’m taking a much-deserved vacation, and I plan on enjoying myself. I’ve got another thirty or forty years ahead of me. I need to decide what I would like to do with it.”

“Whatever. Have fun. Don’t worry about your children, we’ll be fine.” My daughter is filled with resentment and each word drips with venom.

“Carrie, you’re an adult. I’m not abandoning you. You and Nate are always in my thoughts. I’ll get in touch with you when I get there.”

“Well, don’t let it interfere with your fun. I need to go.” And then, she was gone. I sigh at the petulant tone in her voice and shake my head, wondering if I’d been as insufferable when I was her age. No, I had two children to care for when I was her age. I didn’t have time for drama.

In this conversation, you are introduced to Libby Crenshaw, the protagonist of the story and her daughter, Carrie. The conversation moves the story forward by revealing Libby’s plans, gives the reader a glimpse into Carrie’s personality and how she and her mother interact. Through Libby’s inner dialogue, we see that she has made up her mind and will not give in to her daughter’s demands.

Through this passage, the reader may begin to form a connection towards one or the other of the characters, choosing sides and bringing them into the story as they feel the tension build between the two women.

Dialogue serves many purposes within the story structure by providing realism, dramatic tension, and giving voice to the characters as it defines who they are.

It makes the story advance by helping to direct the course of the plot. Characters should experience some type of change after a scene containing dialogue. If it doesn’t cause change it isn’t required to tell the story. It is nothing more than filler and should be deleted.

Dialogue provides information as secrets are revealed and the histories of the characters are divulged. It serves to balance the elements of storytelling by breaking up action sequences and/or descriptive passages.

Keep it natural by giving characters different voices. Let them interrupt each other and give them and non-participants in the scene actions in the background to convey reactions to the conversations. Put them in a specific identifiable location and time during their conversation. Use misdirection, what is unsaid, what is ignored or implied to increase the tension in the scene. Use internal dialogue to communicate those things only the character knows.

Dialogue is a powerful tool for the writer, but it is only effective if it moves the action forward.


OMP Admin Note: Kate McGinn is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues. Kate hopes to spread awareness of the issue of American Veterans returning home to less help than they deserve. EMMAUS is one of the two main charities we are supporting.

Kate McGinn’s fiction can be found on Amazon in the flash fiction series BITE SIZE STORIES (Volume Two) along with five other guest writers, and in the One Million Project Fiction Anthology. Her Clare Thibodeaux Series which include the suspense books — EXODUS, WINTER’S ICY CARESS, and NEVER SHOW YOUR HAND are available on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.

https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B01KUKTYFQ

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Kate-McGinn/e/B01KUKTYFQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1473258097&sr=1-2-ent

https://www.katemcginn.com/


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

Reading for Fun, or Not ~~ by Michele Potter

Reading for Fun, or Not ~~ by Michele Potter

 

Quite often, I like to take a break from writing to do some pleasure reading. Having loved books for as long as I can remember, I can’t imagine a world without them. My preferences run the gamut: thrillers, sci-fi, fantasy, dramas, sagas, historical epics, even young adult or erotica. I love nothing better than a compelling story, breathtaking imagery, and a brilliant turn of phrase, no matter the genre.

However, there is one thing that stops me cold in my tracks, like a boulder in the road. That is editing: misspelled or misused words, bad formatting, and terrible grammar. I have started reading books that showed great promise but ended up never finishing them. Poorly edited books make me want to get my red pen out!

The worst part is, my proofreading obsession has spilled over into other areas. I find problems in newspapers, magazines, billboards, and menus. Emails and social media posts are not immune to my scrutiny, either. One time, I had to leave a restaurant because their shiny menus had “hambruger,” “patato,” and “costomer” printed for all to see. My friends and family laugh at my zealousness. Strangers, however, do not always react so well.

Of course, my background has something to do with being a grammar nazi. I have a degree in English and Education, worked in publishing, and spent a lot of years as a freelance copyeditor. But I believe my wanting to have the written word correctly written has always been with me. In seventh grade, I advised my science teacher that he had misspelled photosynthesis on a test. He didn’t appreciate my calling him out in front of the class, especially because I didn’t know what photosynthesis was. Science was my least favorite subject, but at least I knew how to spell the terms.

All this ranting has a point. Trust me. I know there are others like me. If you are publishing and want as many people as possible to read your heartfelt words, please check and recheck. Do your spellcheck, grammar check, have someone proofread/edit, and then read it out loud again. Don’t let a great story get tossed away by muddling it up with clumsy editing.

Also, if I have mistakes in this blog, please feel free to point them out. None of us are perfect. I am always interested in ways to improve my writing; while I also want you to be the best that you can.

Happy writing and don’t forget to read!


OMP Admin Note: Michele Potter is a writer and OMP Network member – one of a group of networkers who will be blogging on a regular basis on various causes and issues.

Michele is an incredibly diverse and talented writer who I hope will collect her short stories and make them available on Amazon someday soon. In the meantime, her story PERCEPTIONS is available in the guest author section of the flash fiction anthology BITE SIZE STORIES VOLUME ONE.

https://www.amazon.com/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=la_B00CBFLI1W_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095358&sr=1-4

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bite-Size-Stories-Jason-Greenfield-ebook/dp/B01HALHVBW/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1475095546&sr=1-1


Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology

 

The Beauty Is In the Eye of the Author ~~ by Nera Hart

The Beauty Is In the Eye of the Author ~~ by Nera Hart

Everyone knows that thing that authors often say, you know, the one about how much harder it is to write when you start to realise how much work goes into the little technicalities, besides simply telling a story?

Yes, that thing. It is true, by the way. The more I know about writing the harder I find writing.

I have to edit, edit and edit again. And I always worry that when someone, who knows these things, reads my finished work they’ll think I haven’t edited it at all.

The commas, the cheesy words, or worn out phrases, the overuse of certain words, colons, hyphens, or not indenting the first sentences of your paragraphs…

Phew, I’ve got a headache writing these and that’s not even scratching the surface.

But, today it just dawned on me after moaning about all this to another writer, that yes, it is so much harder to write when you’ve learned about all the things that can go wrong for your work, but… I can also hear the beautiful monologues, dialogues, and narratives everywhere!!!

I can appreciate good discussion points, statements, freakouts or conversations of love anywhere and everywhere I hear them. Whether it is on TV or during the conversations  I overhear outside my children’s school or in some well-written dramas, some sentences are so beautiful it brings me nearly to tears!

And, this is without what I’m reading.

The world of words, as hard as it is, is also absolutely jam-packed with beauty, and we, my distinguished colleagues, are so lucky to have the knowledge to appreciate it.

Let’s bring out the beautiful. It is what we do, after all.


Nera Hart is writing poetry, short fiction and in a process of writing her first crime fiction novel.

She writes in two languages, English and Croatian, and image1her ambition is to translate the classic Croatian novels into the English language.

Nera became involved in The One Million Project recently.

Nera runs a Facebook group ‘Quills And Parchments’, in which book lovers and authors socialise.

You can find Nera and her work at:

https://m.facebook.com/groups/1778050345825324

https://my.w.tt/2Jb4T1zLzL

Twitter- @nerahart

 

Our short story anthologies written by over 100 writers have been recently published (links below) with all proceeds being donated to the charity organizations our group supports.

If you are a Kindle Unlimited member, you can read the complete anthology for FREE, and KU proceeds are donated along with the proceeds from the sale of our anthologies.

Our volunteer authors love to see reviews, and every review helps to make the One Million Project’s books more visible to Amazon customers, assisting us in our mission to raise One Million Pounds / Dollars for EMMAUS Homeless Programs and Cancer Research UK.

LINKS

myBook.to/OMPThriller

myBook.to/OMPFantasy

myBook.to/OMPFiction

myBook.to/OMPVarietyAnthology