Thursday, 21 February 2013
Writer's Corner: The Trouble With Dialogue
Wow, it feels like forever since I did my last Writer's Corner post. It's not because I've had less writing insecurities that's for sure. Amongst other things I've been struggling a lot with the dialogue in my books. I worry about the voice, the vocab and the inevitable Aussie vernacular that permeates my MS. Earlier this week I read THIS POST on the Novel Publicity website about the many ways in which dialogue can enhance your writing.
It hit me after reading the article that all my characters whether young or old, rich or poor, male or female, all sound exactly the same. I can't seem to disengage from my characters to imbue them with their own sense of self. So invariably everyone turns into subdued caricatures with various levels of sarcasm to their speech. In other words, they are all me supplanted into a MS and given an overcoat of background.
I hadn't noticed this so much until I started reading a few American western themed books with vivid characters who speak in their beautiful southern drawls.It made a noticeable difference to my enjoyment of the story. I just don't get it. I love different accents in real life but somehow this doesn't translate into my writing. Granted it's difficult to really have people with accents in a futuristic dystopian world where everyone is meant to be quite homogenized but still, I don't do it in the stories I write that are set in this modern age either.
Besides the fact that everyone sounds the same, I feel like I've fallen into the trap of using dialogue as a way to sneak in excessive info dumping. I admit to being one of those readers who love dialogue and I prescribe to the rule of more is more. But even I can admit that when the dialogue goes for two thirds of a page and it's all exposition, that it's probably excessive.
So let's say I am dialogue deficient. How important is dialogue to your enjoyment of a book? Not just in terms of character distinction, but how much do you think is too much dialogue for a book? Can you forgive a book that has strange dialogue or is it a deal breaker?