Chat With Me: Hearing Voices?

Different Strokes: Dialogue

I’m starting a Blog Chat called “Different Strokes.” It highlights how differently writers work through issues, which techniques work for them and which ones don’t, as well as how they hone their craft. Each month will have one topic and four guest bloggers (one per week).

I’m so excited to kick off this chat with my first guest blogger, Dawn Allen. Dawn earned her MFA from UNO. She has published several short stories/articles and is an awesome critique partner.

What type of fiction do you write? 
 My YA tend to be in the Sci/Fi, horror, or Fantasy/Paranormal. My adult novels are mystery/suspense.
How do you stay true to each character’s voice? 
I make sure my characters are well-developed. If you know your characters well, it will be impossible to stray from who they are. And I have a backup crew who knows my characters as well as I do. My girls will catch it if I miss anything with my characters.
Give an example of a technique you’ve used to distinguish characters.
I like quirky characteristics. One of my characters has a cat tattoo from her ankle to the back of her knee. Another is Native Samoan and barters for everything; he never uses cash and doesn’t pay taxes. 
What do you do when characters stop talking?
I’ve been known to write first person pieces where they write about how much they hate their creator (me). When they get that out of their system, they start talking again. And I’ll admit it’s a bit of fun even if it is masochistic.
What things do you try to avoid in writing dialogue?
For me I have to forget that I’m an English teacher. Dialogue is going to sound stilted if it’s grammatically perfect so my inner grammarian has to shut up. I watch for times when my author voice shows up – I love words and I can’t let my love of big words come out in my YA for instance. Unless there’s a good reason for the student to speak in that way. 
Do you have a favorite quote about writing dialogue?
I don’t have a favorite one about dialogue. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever come across one on dialogue. But my favorite writing quote is from Chekhov: 
Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”  ~Anton Chekhov

Is there a particular author(s) whose character dialogue you admire?
Hands down, Harlan Coben. He rocks with authenticity in his dialogue. Also, he reveals characterization in his dialogue really effectively.

How can people learn more about you and your writing?
I’m on Facebook, Twitter [miserwriter], and my own blog ‘[].

Do you give your characters quirky characteristics? What kind? Do you tend to write in first POV or third POV? Have a favorite quote about dialogue?

10 comments on “Chat With Me: Hearing Voices?

  1. […]  Check out my guest chat this week on Natasha Hanova’s site. […]

  2. lbdiamond says:

    I wanna hang out with the Native Samoan… 😉

    This is a great post and a great series idea!!! 😀

    • You have no idea, Rami (the Native Samoan) is so much fun. Dawn has really nailed his voice, mannerisms, appearence. Thanks for the compliment too. Hope you’ll be a guest blogger one day. 🙂

  3. Ciara Knight says:

    Great Blog Chat! Dialogue is difficult for me. I’m like Dawn. Because of seven years of speech therapy as a child, it is difficult to let go of ‘speech’ rules. 🙂

  4. Sometimes I have to go back and edit dialogue to make it less grammatically correct, especially when emotions are running high.

  5. This was really great! Nice idea. I love developing my characters with quirky features. Some have food fetishes or maybe a favorite article of clothing they always have to wear. I have one that hiccups when she’s upset and another would never get a J.O.B in high school. I love to use all of that during dialog scenes. (BTW, I hopped over here from YAlitchat.)

    • Ooh, food fetish. That has tons of potential for conflict or humor. As for clothing characters have to wear, I heard Dan Akroyd always wears a badge some where hidden on his clothing. Been trying to figure out how to work something similar into one of my stories. (thanks for popping over from YALitChat 🙂 )

  6. Comment from Catherine Stine,

    Ah, Chekhov, the writers’ writer. I just finished teaching a segment on the Seagull, and the kids (college freshmen) loved it.

    As far as snappy dialog, I think MT Anderson is very good. He has the ability to write in more than one genre (all YA) yet focus in on the characters’ worlds so well that the dialog is completely unique and specific to each character. I agree that once you draw an in-depth “sketch” of your characters, you have a good chance of then animating them in an organic way. Good post. Catherine

  7. […] is week two of my Blog Chat, “Different Strokes.” It highlights how differently writers work through issues, which techniques work for them and […]

  8. […] McKinney is this week’s  guest blogger on Different Strokes.  As published poet, a columnist for Writers News Weekly and an active member of First Tuesdays […]

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