Wednesday, March 6, 2013

He said, she said! IWSG

Another month has flown by and once again it is time for the Insecure Writers Support Group, a group created by Alex Cavanaugh for writers to share their frustrations and offer support to others. 

Today I am seeking advice on Dialogue. I have reached what I believe is the half-way point of my book, Secrets of the Ash Tree, and I am stuck at a crossroads. Not sure which way to turn with my story I decided to go back to the beginning and start editing. What I noticed was how terrible my dialogue is. There are too many, he said or she said, and then he said…etc…etc…I don’t dare do a work count on the word Said in my document. Now I am looking for other words. You know, like this…Siv wiped a tiny tear from the corner of her eye and moaned, “Why do my characters have to talk at all?”

Another question I have is when do you write he said, before or after the dialogue?

Some of you out there have some valuable tips for me, I am sure of it! Let’s hear them please. I know that I cannot be the only one trying to wade through Dialogue Quicksand. 

Have a great hump day everyone! Just think, spring is around the corner and the days are getting longer.


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Hey Siv! Good to hear from you.
If the voice of the character is strong enough, then you can just dump a lot of those dialogue tags. Don't be afraid of the 'saids.' A few colorful tags are good, but too many looks bad. Focus on where you can just delete the tag altogether. Reading out loud really helps.
And thanks for being one of my most faithful IWSG posters!

Al Diaz said...

During a workshop, I was told to delete all tags and use the she said he said sparingly. I was also adviced on focusing on the action. Instead of putting she said, put what she was doing as she said that. It changed my writing a lot and it helped the pace too.

LD Masterson said...

In two person dialogue, you can drop most of the tags. The reader can tell who's who. Another way to avoid too many "he said/she said" tags is to work in action, a change in setting, or a character's thoughts.

shelly said...

1. use he/she said the first two pieces of dialogue.

2. then use no tags for the next two lines.

3. use action tags...incorporate what your characters facial quirks are, movements and what they may be wearing or even where they may be at. Even what they may be thinking.

4. Repeat.

Hugs and chocolate,

Nancy Thompson said...

Readers can usually follow the dialogue without all those pesky tags. Just use them occasionally. Instead, use more incidental action in between the dialogue to help the reader both visualize and keep track of who's saying what. BUT, and this is a big but...DO NOT use incidental action as the tag itself. Make sure you use the proper punctuation with action. No commas between it and the dialogue. That is VERY bad form.

Yolanda Renee said...

That's it, all good advice!

From what I was told the he said /she said /s disappear for the reader, (I think they only irritate the writer) only needed to make sure they know who is talking but use the other tricks listed above and don't go to words like inquired, asked, pleaded -- etc. / editors hate those!

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, Sis,

Tags are only needed at set up and if there are more than TWO speaking.

Definitely keep them at a minimal. I will occasionally start with a tag just to mix things up a bit. But overall keep them out.

Using actions as the others have said is a great way to break up lengthy dialogue.

Susan Kane said...

Al Diaz was correct! I always told my students that a character is doing , seeing , feeling something when speaking. Never leave a simple line hanging out to dry.

Andrew Leon said...

"Said" is the thing you want to use when you have to use anything. You don't want your dialogue tags distracting from the actual dialogue. When they're too "colorful," they're distracting to the reader or they're telling the reader the characters' emotions rather than the author showing them.
The occasional "mutter" or "hiss" is okay, but, mostly, stick with "said."

Melissa Bradley said...

Chiming in very late and I see that you have gotten some really excellent advice. I'll be using some of that myself. :)

Jerry E Beuterbaugh said...

Writing dialogue is the most difficult for me.