Dialogue Tips

Specifics about craft, talent, technique, etc.
WilliamHadleyyy
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Dialogue Tips

Postby WilliamHadleyyy » Mon Apr 08, 2019 3:34 am

Hello beautiful people out there on the forum. I noticed that Writing: Craft, Talent, Technique has no posts about dialogue. That confused me slightly, dialogue is as important in immersing the reader as descriptions, and everything else.

To those of you to want to give newbie writers some help, here's where to do it.

Stuff that I think needs to be discussed:

1. How to fuse World Building and Characterisation into dialogue
2. How to make dialogue read smooth, natural, and to your personal style (> not clunky)
3. How to avoid cliche, and the services that can help identify cliche writing for you
4. How to make writing do two things at once... Writing dialogue that tells the character in the story one thing, and the reader who's had the advantage of reading 28 chapters before the conversation, two things
5. Dialogue tips for short stories exclusively, full-length novels exclusively, and everything in between
6. Lastly, general tips

I think that's plenty to talk about.

So if there's any experienced writers out there with some free time that want to give some help, please do. And if there's any new writers that have questions, ask them. Hopefully someone will reply!

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disgruntledpeony
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby disgruntledpeony » Mon Apr 08, 2019 5:15 am

*cracks knuckles* Okay, let's see:

Watch out for excessive dialogue tags (he said, she said, he chirped, she growled, etcetera). You can frame speakers through actions and then just let them go at it, like so:

Bob crossed his arms and scowled. "What makes you think this isn't going to work, exactly?"
Sarah smirked. "It's your plan."
"I make great plans!"
"Nine times out of ten, you just want to punch things and hope they'll run away."
"Punching works for me!"
"You'd get more out of conversation."
"No, you'd get more out of conversation. I hate talking to people."
"Hence the excessive punching."


Another point, as illustrated above, is the importance of conflict. Every character in a conversation wants something. In this case, Bob wants Sarah to follow his plan and Sarah wants to take a more diplomatic approach. Each of them is trying to get the other to come around to their point of view.

It's also important to note that people don't always say exactly what they mean. It is never outright stated in the dialogue I just made up that each of them wants to use their own strengths in an upcoming conflict, but hopefully the dialogue makes that clear. Subtext is everything when it comes to dialogue.

(I do apologize for the shallow/stereotypical characterizations; it's an example I literally threw together on the fly. I was aiming for a simple, clear example more than originality.)
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TimE
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby TimE » Mon Apr 08, 2019 7:41 am

Cliches in dialogue are different for me. I try to get rid of clichés except in dialogue, because people naturally talk in clichés.

However, in a scifi or fantasy piece, it may be that some cliched phrases should have moved on.

A big thing for me is making sure every character doesn't sound the same when they speak. Short story or novel - it's part of someone's character.

How do others feel about the length of dialogue any one person might say in one go? It's not unusual for me to run to 60 or 70 words for one person. That takes no time to speak, but my critiquers regularly highlight any lengthy dialogue - and I feel it's fine and appropriate. I browsed around a few sites the other day and failed to find advice on this. then I flicked thru a few books. Each had some very long sections of one person speaking but, at a glance, most were short.
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby ddonche » Mon Apr 08, 2019 8:22 am

I think the length of dialogue varies, depending on the situation. People can often talk for a long stretch without interruption. Are they venting? Are they speaking quickly? Or are they super charismatic so they command the attention of the other characters? You could probably even splice this in with a character's personality. Some people just talk a lot more than others. You could even have people try to interrupt, to no avail.

I don't think this is something you need to concern yourself over. "Too long dialogue" is not a rule at all, unless it seems to not fit with the story. Critiquers don't always know what's best. I always take their thoughts into consideration. "Why are they pointing this out?" Is it because there's a problem, or is it because of their tastes?

A great way to get really good at dialogue is to start reading scripts. Pick a movie you love the dialogue and read it. I love Coen brothers movies and Tarantino.
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby TimE » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:02 am

Thanks, that concurs with my thoughts. When my two favourite critiquers keep saying similar things I began to have doubts. But I've not been able to find or recall seeing advice on someone speaking for too long. I don't have it on every exchange, just when I think it's needed.

I'd forgotten about scripts. I have a few around. Thanks again.
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby OldDarth » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:07 am

For 60+ word dialogues, throwing in a little stage direction to break up a big block of text is a useful technique. Ideally a person's gestures or movement will underscore and/or stress what they are saying. Or can add layers to the moment by opposing what they are saying.

It may be possible to even have the character's actions substitute for dialogue.

The main concern to look for in lenthy dialogue is the tendency for it to become exposition. If it is, is there more active way to get the same information across?
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby morganb » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:09 am

I went to a workshop one time and learned about text and subtext. People very often do not say what they are really thinking or feeling, and a lot of times that can create really great conflict and tension during dialogue. We know our protagonist is thinking or feeling one way, but because of social pressures or for the sake of saving a relationship or a professional career, he/she says something completely opposite of that. I love seeing that during interactions between characters.

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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby TimE » Mon Apr 08, 2019 10:36 am

Thanks for more responses.

I do include movements etc, though I hadn't thought of one that opposes what they're saying - and that might fit what I'm currently writing which has a lot of deception.
I don't think it's exposition I struggle with in dialogue. One critiquer comments are more about the lack of white space for a reader.

Yes. I do strive for tension. I'm sure I could pay more attention to subtext.

And consideration of subtext brings up back to William's list.
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby disgruntledpeony » Mon Apr 08, 2019 1:12 pm

TimE wrote:One critiquer comments are more about the lack of white space for a reader.

In that case, don't forget you can use multiple paragraphs for dialogue, like so:

"The first step is to keep individual thought patterns in their own paragraphs. Much like you'd have a new paragraph whenever you shift focus in your prose, you can have a new paragraph for every new thought process inside it as well.
"Start every new paragraph with opening quotes, but don't use closing quotes until the character is done speaking."
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby amoskalik » Tue Apr 09, 2019 4:35 am

If the character speaking at length is not the POV character, consider fading out to the POV's internal thoughts and then back in when something else interesting is said. This will give it a more natural feel and avoids boring the reader while still capturing the verbosity of the long winded speaker.
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby orbivillein » Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:19 am

This below response to number 6 of the original post, more to come for 1 through 5.

Distinguishable dialogue types and melds of several include:

Echo: speakers echo each other's diction and syntax, or one or the other, at least congruent expression mode echoes, for alignment and rapport persuasion, or for mockery, ridicule, hostility, or for flirtation, out of deference, or respect.

Non sequitur: does not follow, dialogue that tracks off skew, conversation that avoids direct responses or inserts altogether nonsensical responses yet contains subtext that oppositely aptly responds and reveals true intents. People rarely say what they truly mean, nor mean what they say, yet give cues that reveal true intents if frankly interpreted.

Squabble: speakers squabble out of hostility, affection, flirtation, or dissent, etc., that ranges among respectful to childish to lustful to friendly to motivated by hidden and ulterior agendas: irony, satire, and sarcasm squabbles.

Colloquy: formal speech modes that exhibit respect, deference, superior to subordinate or subordinate to superior registers, or affection or other emotion or hostility.

Question and answer: an exchange of questions and answers intended to elicit information not known by the parties, each of a hidden agenda motive as well as superficial designs.

Soliloquy: dramatic monologue reflections of a self spoken aloud to the self. The self argues with the self, or castigates, corrects, disciplines, adjusts the self, or meditates upon tries and tests of a plan or design or presentation, etc., out loud.

Stream-of-consciousness: free-wheeled speech or thought streams that contain off-kilter though apt and meaningful expression.

Dramatic monologue: speech often addressed to another silent persona or personas present. Apostrophe-type dramatic monologue addresses a persona or personas not present or who are imagined. More quantity than a social contract length of speech, "the floor" held longer than conversation social code accepts, is for speeches, formal debates, parliamentary discussions, lectures, sermons, and instructions, corrective discipline adjustments, castigations, etc., maybe wrath.

Filibuster: speech that "holds the floor" longer than conversation social code accepts, often contains train-wreck run-on sentences and numerous conjunctions and discourse markers, especially and, instead of terminal punctuation.

Discourse markers: often nonsensical interjection words and phrasal idioms that gather thought wool and "hold the floor": and, but, now, okay, uh, right, oh, so, that being said, so to speak, as it were, etc.

Encomium: shallow praise and empty flattery speech that the subtext intends a polar opposite, also court irony,

Subtext and dramatic emotion enhance each type, and type overlaps do, too. A main function of dialogue is to reveal as much about a speaker's true nature, emotional status, personality, and behavior through subtext as the superficial de dicto words do. Superficial to mean surface and "literal" words' meaning. Subtext is the liminal, at the edges of perception de re or de se words' meaning.

De dicto: of the word, given words' superficial, literal meanings, denotative, dictionary meanings.
De re: of the thing, the thing is the object of a subtext, a tangible substance represents an intangible, immaterial, abstract phenomena, a true intent, incidental design, or unintended "slip of the tongue" meaning within subtext.
De se: of the self, actual or unintended report of the self. Mistakes by design or accident the self or the self's actions as another persona's. Actual third-person or first-person-plural "royal we" accounts about the self are de se, and may entail unintended subtext that reveals more about the self than intended.
De re and de se's stronger appeals are if more is revealed than intended, for prose, another layer of revelation subtext: a subliminal subtext layer. De dicto by its lonesome self has little, if any, provenance in prose.

Long one-speaker dialogue ought be separated into apt social code lengths by other speaker interruptions, by sensory detail descriptions, by thought, or by actions, by transition setup or jump transition paragraph breaks. Sensory detail descriptions include visual actions, sounds, tactile sensations, smells, tastes, emotional expressions, setting and milieu details, as well as already mentioned thought and visual, etc., details about another speaker or personas' present nonverbal, nonvocal language (gestures, body language, and facial expressions). Mindful of "mime" dialogue, sensation, and action perils. Mimes are fraught with portentous details that amount to nothing substantive.

Sensory detail descriptions show rather than tell where a viewpoint persona's attention focuses, and is drawn to for several reasons: to look away from an unpleasant persona, distracted by thought wanders that might intimate boredom or other emotion, attention drawn by sensations' stark differences, outdoors from indoors, loud or insistent sounds, bright lights, conspicuous dark shadows, to trace odors, etc., each someway relevant to the dramatic situation instance and overall, and emotionally charged.

Third-person narrative point of view, remote to middle narrative distance may describe any persona and detail present, includes speech and body language mannerisms: this is selective omnipresence, as if a spy-eye drone moves about, or comparable to a multiple-camera angle motion-picture set.

A third-person, psychic access limited to one persona, close narrative distance narrative point of view cannot see the self, nor ought see the self reflected by mirrors or water or similar surfaces. That method of self-description is as cliché as clichés come. However, a narrative that expresses ironic commentary about clichés might contain such self-descriptions. A viewpoint persona hears the self's speech, or knows what the self expresses for non-aural conversation.

Emotion subtext is paramount for any dialogue, ideally, a cluster of two or more congruent opposite emotional states in tension.

Several dialogue types are cliché or strongly deprecated:

Maid and butler: a formal, superficial, emotionless colloquy superior and subordinate register type that lacks subtext altogether.

As you know, Bob: superficial dialogue that informs readers of details and information the speakers obviously already know.

Social pleasantries: superficial greetings and polite speech that lacks emotion and subtext substance.

Mime: from "Being a Glossary of Terms Useful in Critiquing Science Fiction," edited by Clarion workshops' David Smith, SFWA hosted:

"Mime conversation. A dialog supposedly loaded with portentous significance to all participants – contorted facial expressions, heavy word emphasis, significant looks – completely opaque to readers because relevant facts are neither stated nor inferrable. 'But when you told me that – ' '-s! And thus he couldn’t – ' 'Of course, and I was such a fool, so now if — ' 'not if, but-when! And — ' Such conversation infuriating to the reader and also cheat him of the genuine emotional conflict and change that are core to viable fiction. (CSFW: David Smith)"

Tom Swifties are widely deprecated: Tom swiftly said. Most any -ly adverb in a dialogue or thought tag that summary and explanation tells a mannerism of a spoken or thought expression.

Dialogue may be attributed, tagged by she said, he says, it would say, etc., may be free unattributed or attributed through action tag setups, may be paraphrased indirect speech, or verbatim direct speech. All those for thought, too, for that matter. Tag words include variants of to say and to think of whatever type. "He ejaculated," for explosive utterances, for example, nine times in Vanity Fair, William Thackeray Makepeace, 1848, is widely deprecated for a said-bookism type. He wondered is a thought tag, any word that describes a thought action.

Verbatim, tagged, direct discourse (speech or thought), TDD, TDS, TDT
Verbatim, untagged, free direct discourse, FDD, FDS, FDT
Paraphrased, tagged, indirect discourse, TID, TIS, TIT
Paraphrased, untagged, free indirect discourse, FID, FIS, FIT
Last edited by orbivillein on Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:30 am, edited 8 times in total.

TimE
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby TimE » Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:50 am

disgruntledpeony wrote:
TimE wrote:One critiquer comments are more about the lack of white space for a reader.

In that case, don't forget you can use multiple paragraphs for dialogue, like so:

"The first step is to keep individual thought patterns in their own paragraphs. Much like you'd have a new paragraph whenever you shift focus in your prose, you can have a new paragraph for every new thought process inside it as well.
"Start every new paragraph with opening quotes, but don't use closing quotes until the character is done speaking."


I'm familiar with this technique, thanks. Generally, I don't think I have anyone talking that long that I need this - and when I have used it, it's thrown some of my critiquers!
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby disgruntledpeony » Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:57 am

TimE wrote:Generally, I don't think I have anyone talking that long that I need this - and when I have used it, it's thrown some of my critiquers!

On the one hand, not all readers are used to it. On the other hand, I've seen it in fiction before, and Benjamin Dreyer (copy chief of Random House) specifically discusses it in Dreyer's English. If you don't feel it's necessary, don't do it; if you do feel it's necessary, make it one of the tools at your disposal.
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby TimE » Tue Apr 09, 2019 8:11 am

amoskalik wrote:If the character speaking at length is not the POV character, consider fading out to the POV's internal thoughts and then back in when something else interesting is said. This will give it a more natural feel and avoids boring the reader while still capturing the verbosity of the long winded speaker.


Thanks. So far, no one has said a piece of dialogue is boring. I certainly try to avoid that! However, I will take another look to see if it can be compressed.

Good to get this many responses to one problem.
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby amoskalik » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:16 am

TimE wrote:Thanks. So far, no one has said a piece of dialogue is boring. I certainly try to avoid that! However, I will take another look to see if it can be compressed.

Good to get this many responses to one problem.


I'm sure it is not!
I use the technique I described when I have a character doing a lot of exposition or explaining a pet theory, etc. I find breaking these types of monologues up with either action or internal thoughts helps keep the pacing up. Then again, I suspect I suffer from undiagnosed ADHD, so maybe I am just reflecting my own inability to focus on one thing.
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby orbivillein » Wed Apr 10, 2019 8:28 am

1. How to fuse World Building and Characterisation into dialogue
5. Dialogue tips for short stories exclusively, full-length novels exclusively, and everything in between

World building's best occasion is when incidental to the action of the moment, extends to larger parts, and overall. Plus, that a setting and milieu influence lives in more than trivial ways, especially emotional, motivational, and stakes risked influences. A milieu where rayguns are common might stratify their reputations, say, one brand or make is superior to others, and one is least reputable.

A brief conversation between two or so personas, one the owner of the superior weapon make, the other an excited admirer, maybe their weapons skills are inverse, the owner a poor shot, the admirer a deadeye, for enhanced dramatic effects, develops the mythology of the weapon, the milieu, the speakers' natures (characterization), and poses a Chekhov's gun motif: If the weapon or other portentous artifact, event, thing, or persona appears in an early scene, it best be more pivotal for a later scene, and go off in a later yet scene. That progression is a tension sequence: a setup segment, a relief delay segment, and a partial or full tension relief segment, and may span several scenes or an entire narrative.

So more than world building, characterization, and dialogue, event and tension, dramatic progression, too. The emotional event sequence (tension) shows the raygun and milieu's emotional influences on personas' lives.

Factors for setting and milieu development consideration from "Being a Glossary of Terms Useful in Critiquing Science Fiction," edited by Clarion workshops' David Smith, SFWA hosted:

"Edges of Ideas. The places where technology and background should come onstage: not the mechanics of a new event, gizmo, or political structure, but rather how people’s lives are affected by their new background. Example of excellence: the opening chapters of Orwell’s 1984. (Lewis Shiner)" Includes setting and milieu features, event, world building, characterization, and dialogue, also known as incidentalistics.

"Overhead. The amount of reality-bending in a science fiction or fantasy story which the reader must absorb as a precondition of enjoying the work and appreciating the dramatic point. Science fiction has more overhead than mainstream fiction: the author is building a world that does not exist so as to stage something which cannot be illustrated in the world that does exist. Staging overhead unobtrusively but unmistakably is always a problem; the shorter the work, the harder the problem (see Info Dump). Well-balanced stories have no more overhead than necessary to make the dramatic point; part of the difficulty in writing sf short stories, thus, is the need to provide overhead in a cramped space. This may in part contribute to the proliferation of used furniture, which (however tacky and cliched) is at least familiar and thus requires less overhead. (CSFW: Alex Jablokov)"

Distinctions between long and short fiction above, applies to world building, characterization, and dialogue: more concise overhead, world building, characterization, and dialogue, etc., for short fiction; occasion for more leisure attention lavished for long fiction. The long and short betweens and encompasses are that dialogue, world building, characterization, events, emotional influences, etc., are of most appeal if bolder, more concise, more imaginative, more personal, and more emotionally powerful dramatic situations: fresh, lively, vivid, personal, immediate, Antagonal, Causal, and Tensional portrayals (ACT, act out, act up, act dramatically on the fiction page.)

Recaps from the Glossary about "info dump" and "used furniture":

"Expository lump [info dump]. A chunk of exposition that, whether or not relevant to the plot, is insufficiently integrated into the story being told. As such, is seems to come from left field, as if a page from an encyclopedia accidentally got shuffled in. Asimov is famous for these. A subheading, known as “I’ve Suffered For My Art (And Now It’s Your Turn)” occurs when the author, having done masses of boring research, proves this by unloading them on the stunned reader."

Lumps Include dialogue that likewise "exposits" summary and explanation detail, though one step removed from narrator tell. More common for first-person of late. Note, true exposition introduces dramatic circumstances, not the user manual, encyclopedia, recipe, textbook, essay, summary, and explanation tells of high school English composition instruction.

"Used furniture. A background out of Central Casting, often chosen by an author too lazy to invent a good one. (Lewis Shiner)"

"Space western. A pernicious form of used furniture where every Martian or Jovian town looks and sounds like Dodge City (Lewis Shiner)."

From "Turkey City Lexicon – A Primer for SF Workshops," Edited by Lewis Shiner, Second Edition by Bruce Sterling, SFWA hosted:

"The most pernicious suite of “Used Furniture”. The grizzled space captain swaggering into the spacer bar and slugging down a Jovian brandy, then laying down a few credits for a space hooker to give him a Galactic Rim Job."

"Used Furniture. Use of a background out of Central Casting. Rather than invent a background and have to explain it, or risk re-inventing the wheel, let’s just steal one. We’ll set it in the Star Trek Universe, only we’ll call it the Empire instead of the Federation."

Another cliché dialogue type absents world building and characterization, etc., altogether, from the Lexicon:

"Brenda Starr dialogue. Long sections of talk with no physical background or description of the characters. Such dialogue, detached from the story’s setting, tends to echo hollowly, as if suspended in mid-air. Named for the American comic-strip in which dialogue balloons were often seen emerging from the Manhattan skyline." Also known as "disembodied mind" dialogue, or thought, from dark void vacuums.

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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby orbivillein » Thu Apr 11, 2019 6:07 am

2. How to make dialogue read smooth, natural, and to your personal style (> not clunky)
3. How to avoid cliche, and the services that can help identify cliche writing for you

Smooth, natural, and personal style dialogue orients around personal idiolects. An idiolect is already a personal dialect itself, extends to shared group dialects: diction, syntax, quantity, quality, relevance, and mannerism.

Smooth dialogue is seamless, though occasions disruptions and awkward pauses, too, and natural to a dramatic situation's circumstances and occasions as well, at times, an artful disorganization -- organized confusion, chaos, or contentious conversations' spontaneous and extemporaneous riff expressions. Natural speech is messy, yet prose wants only a flavor of mess signals and otherwise wants reading and comprehension ease.

Personas' personalities and natures comes through to readers from subtle cues, subtext, that is. What does a personal dialect (idiolect [identity, id + dialect]) of a given persona reveal about the persona's true identity and motivations, especially emotional status? What, multiple grammar errors, numerous progressive tense and gerund -ing words, -ly adverbs, multiple adjectives and adverbs for emphasis purposes, intellect status, education status, sexual identity, ethnicity, political views, mores and values, mental and psychological status, financial status, age, etc., any identity matrix marker?

The opposite is a narrative that is all of one idiolect, the writer's natural dialect. One "voice" bores readers, whether they are aware or not. Consider a few nonroutine dialect principles for each and every pivotal persona, includes narrators as well as contestant characters: protagonist, deuteragonist, triagonist, antagonists, etc., as many as seven agonists' unique dialect features for ensemble casts. Long fiction is more amenable to ensemble casts than short fiction, which wants more rigid and specific focus, say, two or three or so pivotal characters.

Likewise for auxiliary personas, extras, nonpivotal noncontestants, fewer speech and thought deviations from Standard English, though nonetheless idiolects suited to their roles, situations, and life's stations. Best to avoid stock expressions or otherwise refresh each and all personas dialects with notable though not Funny Speech guy idiosyncrasies for any cliché stereotypes and stock dialects: the rude French waiter, the heavyset robber baron good ole boy goober, the haggard drag queen, the trailer trash latch-key kid, the ethnic minority junky and hoodlum, etc.

See keyword search "stereotype," "stock archetypes," and "stock character" for locating persona cliché examples (No. 3's ask for services that can help identify clichés).

Clichés orient about types: trite idioms, trite events, settings and milieus, and persona types, and trite composition modes and methods.

Trite idioms are rhetoric's figurative expressions that misuses, overuses, diluted uses, and common uses wore out. Dead metaphors are one common as breath cliché idiom type. The clock is ticking. is a dead metaphor. Some newly coined metaphors and other figurative expressions are "dead on arrival" (the latter is a dead metaphor). News pundit gossips use of the term "optics" to mean visible subtext was dead on arrival. Mindful that, if a persona's nature and identity dialect is triteness, a persona's dialogue that utters clichés is suitable for characterization subtext, and sparse cues only of a quantity, quality, relevance, and mannerism that shows the persona's true nature: trivial yet dramatic.

Trite run-on sentences and other deviations from Standard English are either indications of a persona's intellect or stream-of-consciousness mannerisms responsive to a dramatic situation: excited utterances.

One persona "voice" of a narrative could be Standard English, absent any clichés. Each other voice should deviate per personality and identity matrix. A narrator is often the Standard English voice, that, not a mandate or exclusive to narrators. Lively variety is the antithesis of cliché.

Examples of trite and cliché methods and modes, events, settings and milieus, personas include the dreaded trivial wake-up scene, trivial see the self reflected, trivial weather reports, trivial melodrama, and specific others that, oddly misnamed, TV Tropes dot org indexes and explicates, a cliché identification service.

Trivial misuse of the word "trope" is itself a cliché, which is a situational irony: an observed contradiction between an intended and an actual situation. A trope is a word or phrase used for a lively figurative expression: alludes to one thing as another: metaphor, simile, synecdoche (nicknames), metonymy (nicknames), personification; and a zoo of other trope types and figures. TV Tropes identifies trivial, tired, worn out, cliché circumstances from entertainment culture. Is about dead TV Clichés, actually, though "Tropes" is a suitable euphemism and, ironically, a contrary forced sophistication idiolect feature. "TV Tropes," hilarious, many-layered irony.

Also cliché identification guidance for multiple non-idiom types common to fantastic fiction culture: "Being a Glossary of Terms Useful in Critiquing Science Fiction," edited by Clarion workshops' David Smith, SFWA hosted, and "Turkey City Lexicon – A Primer for SF Workshops," Edited by Lewis Shiner, Second Edition by Bruce Sterling, SFWA hosted.

"Jar of Tang," Shaggy God Story," "Deus ex machina," for examples.

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orbivillein
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Re: Dialogue Tips

Postby orbivillein » Sat Apr 13, 2019 2:09 pm

4. How to make writing do two things at once... Writing dialogue that tells the character in the story one thing, and the reader who's had the advantage of reading 28 chapters before the conversation, two things

The more complex dialogue, etc., matter. SUBTEXT, Subtext, subtext, s------, and dramatic irony, Chekhov's gun, foreshadows, pre-positions, symbols, emblems, and motifs.

Subtext is the meaning between the lines -- multiple meanings at the liminal thresholds of awareness: emotional, moral, thematic, and fraught with layers of irony's congruent opposites. Verbal metaphors occasion multiple meanings, situation instances and extended. Words with different contextual meanings, sometimes contradictory, are especially subtextual. The usual accepted meaning of a word may mean an altogether different meaning. The example word herein will be fresh.

Dramatic irony is if one or more parties are "in the know" and one or more other parties are not. Again, a word's accepted meaning may be contrary to the design and the uses of it mean something else, or a Freudian slip of the tongue may mean to say one thing and another or both meanings stand out. Fresh fruit is all but one accepted meaning and not much else, unless understatement or overstatement, said of, say, rotted fruits that are fresh due to fermentation's lively tang, "Fresh fruit." Fresh's least often accepted meaning: impudent.

Chekhov's gun is a repeated and pivotal motif, emblem, or symbol event, thing, or person pre-positioned in an early scene, that's more pivotal in a later scene, and most pivotal for a later yet scene.

A motif is any thematic emblem or symbol that timely repeats and builds amplitude. An emblem is fixed and immutable; a symbol is subject to change.

A dialogue scene with all the above and more:

Zephyrs rattled the magnolia windrow at the waterside. Reclined on a floral chaise, Thurston said, "Fresh breeze about to get up off the river." Lawn furniture tumbled from the meadow and toward the veranda's open deck.

On her feet and turned for the doorway into the main house, "Fresh breeze, my mother's dead lover," Delilah said. "A full doggone gale and the biblical deluge with it."

"Fresh as a slap to the cheek," Thurston said, unmoved, unheard.

Days and chapters earlier, Delilah slapped Thurston's cheek for his impudence when he castigated her ribald and imprudent etiquette at a garden party. Later, Delilah and Thurston squabble outright, and will they or won't they requite their impudent sexual tension?


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