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).
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.
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?