View Full Version : Dialogue/description
March 12th, 2005, 03:00 PM
Looking back over the first 50,000 words of my novel, I've realised about 95% of it is dialogue.
I find it hard to write scenes that don't involve dialogue in some fashion - especially since the text is third-person narration - and description of actions bores me, even if it's cloaked in fancy turns of phrase. I use description when neccesary - for character appearance, for instance - but the rest of my exposition is usually through conversation. The question is, I'm not entirely sure this technique is going to cut it, especially in the fantasy vein. Do readers really want two pages just telling them what a world is like, as I've seen in some novels...? Do they even notice these things on a widespread basis?!
Does anyone else write in a similar style? What kind of techniques do you guys use regarding exposition and/or non-dialogue scenarios?
March 13th, 2005, 05:19 AM
Nothing wrong with lots of dialogue in novels, I'd say; but then I haven't read your stuff.
Random idea: have you thought of writing plays, rather than novels?
March 13th, 2005, 05:37 AM
I agree with Dawnstorm, nothing wrong with tonnes of dialogue. As long as it's good, purposeful dialogue rather than just waffle. It's possible to bring the world to life through the characters. For instance instead of saying... "There were bright blue mountains." Bob the dwarf might say, "Oh, look. There are bright blue mountains over there." Yeah... now I'm just stupid. Of seen a fantasy novel with tonnes of dialogue and not much description before... can't remember what it was called or who wrote it though. It was done well... i remember that much.
March 13th, 2005, 09:46 AM
I've actually written many plays and scripts for my degree (My tutor seems to appreciate them more - "It's the bane of my life that my students want to read Terry Pratchett!" - because he's a literary snob :P)
In saying that though, I was writing novels way before then, and I just like dialogue. When I think of my characters, I hear them speak. Worlds "speak" to me too, rather than just sit there and look pretty.
March 13th, 2005, 10:59 AM
I've read a couple books that do this. Didn't care for them.
C.J. Cherryh's Downbelow Station is a good example. The dialogue is good, but I got tired of everything happening 'offstage'. It sounded like some interesting things were going on, but having a character narrate every event rather than letting the reader get into the press of the action made the story feel distant, remote.
I don't think readers care what percentage of words are in dialogue, but having a narrator describe events and surroundings allows the characters the freedom to talk like real people, without having to do an "as you know, John" all the time. Not that the narration needs to be especially long or wordy, but it has to be strong. I sincerely doubt that a writer could neglect that part of the craft and write a solid book.
March 13th, 2005, 11:06 AM
I think too much dialogue is bad because, no matter how much the dialogue explains, it is still dialogue. The story gets bogged down, I imagine there are long speeches, but I haven't read it so I can't be sure...
Just beware of the "talking head" scenario where your entire story is told by two individuals who do nothing but speak.
March 13th, 2005, 11:10 AM
You run the danger of 'My Dinner with Andre' where the entrie story is dialogue. There has to be some description, some action, some 'inner thoughts' or you've only got people talking and that can get dry quickly. I'm sure it's witty in places and is interesting to start with, but after a time, readers want more than just talking.
That's my opinion. :) But then I've been known to be wrong.... from time to time.
March 13th, 2005, 02:52 PM
I have sometimes had the opposite problem, and have learned that when my character has something to think about for pages and pages, it helps for her/him to have someone to talk to.
If you can't write in another character, I've heard a volleyball can come in handly :) .
I suspect we have to try for more of a balance, I need to talk more and explain less, you may need to explain more and talk less.
Go with what works.
March 13th, 2005, 03:27 PM
I tried writing a story with dialog but attempted to paint the background thru inner 'dialog' and thoughts. It was interesting but I found the associations the character formed were not exactly accurate. I had to add in Narrative to reexplain the inaccuracies. I tried to write in other character inner dialogs to rectify the inaccuracies but these were also tainted by the character. The only way to establish the 'Cannon Facts' was to provide narration.
I never did anything with the composition because in the reread I noticed there was lots of views on the same subject and it got redundant quickly.
March 13th, 2005, 03:40 PM
I prefer to add more description than dialogue, because too much dialogue makes the story boring... of course the same can be said about descriptions.
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