kind of like corny jokes, especially ones involving nuns. I’ll leave the
dirtier ones out of today’s blog – but the great thing about jokes is that they
usually have lots of dialogue. Let’s take an old joke and turn it into story
there’s something in my soup, I think it’s a fly,’ I complained.
not a fly, it’s a burned crouton,’ answered the waitress as she chewed gum.
pretty sure it’s a fly. What’s it doing in my soup?’ I demanded, pointing to
think it’s doing backstroke,’ the waitress said.
The right dialogue for the right genre
it’s pretty bad, isn’t it? I mean the dialogue and the joke. After some
thought, here are some ways to make it read better. (The dialogue, not the
line is structured the same – it’s going be the equivalent of a singsong voice
on the page (i.e., annoying). We need to break it up a bit.
idea of a joke is to be short and punchy. Let’s make the dialogue work for it,
not against it. If you’re writing an action-packed story, your dialogue should
be action-packed. If you’re writing a drama, it can be more weighted.
there are no dialogue tags. These descriptors add texture to the speakers. They
need to give character, movement, style, the tone of the story. We can’t just
add them in randomly.
the dialogue here could be a little more colloquial – it needs to sound like
real people talking.
Waiter, there’s great dialogue in
is what the dialogue could look like if we structure and shape it in the right
there’s a fly in my soup!’ I jabbed a finger at the bowl.
cracked a big piece of pink gum in the side of her mouth. ‘Nah,’ she said, ‘it’s
just a burned crouton.’
’ I felt my face turn red. ‘What’s it doing in
peered down for a closer look. ‘Backstroke?’
Look, don’t just listen
of us tend to focus on just the words our characters are saying in the story.
This is good, but we also need to pay attention to how it’s going to look on
the flat surface of a page. Structure doesn’t just give us a better-looking story;
it also makes the experience more enjoyable for the reader. The reader must see
it and hear it in his or her imagination.
If you enjoyed this post, you will love Five Creative Ways To Make Your Story More Powerful.
by Anthony Ehlers
Anthony Ehlers is a reluctant blogger. A child of the 70s, he’s a late converter to the (sometimes scary) world of social media. As a creative writing facilitator, he loves sharing ideas around storytelling and the blog post is another way to reach out to fellow writers no matter their stage of the journey. He always encourages delegates with energy, humour and his insights into novels, short stories and scriptwriting. He sometimes lurks on Facebook and flits on to a branch of Twitter when his Inbox is empty (which isn’t a lot these days).
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