Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Teaching to learn - Dialogue that sings

Story Essentials – Continued

Recapping as we work our way down the romance editor’s wish list, so far we have:

An opening hook
An appealing, human heroine
A hero to fall in love with. He must be human, appealing and honorable
An original story line.
Dialogue that sings

Dialogue samples are all from the already read pile:

Sample number one

“I know Lyons, and he is not for heiress of Rowena’s stature. Even if his age were not an issue, the man has scandals of perversion attached to his name. Never would I condone such a match.”

“He is the only man willing to fight to regain her properties,” Gilbert had pointed out,

“Properties your father lost through his greed.”

“Nay it is every man’s right –”

“To encroach on his neighbor?” Anne cut in with a full measure of the contempt she felt for her stepson, which was not even a quarter of what she had felt for his brutish father. “To raid and make war without recourse? To steal and force women into marriage before their husbands are even buried! Such rights only came to men since Stephen was made King.”

The names, the lack of contractions, the word choices all tell the reader this is a historical novel. There are no dialogue tags to attribute emotion until the last paragraph, yet I hear bitterness and determination in the woman’s lines. Sulky defiance in the man’s. Without the dialogue attributes I’d know there were two different speakers. and that they’re opposed.

This exchange is laden with information for the reader. An arranged marriage looms between the heroine (Rowena) and a perverse old man. Gilbert’s motive for pushing the union revealed along with a silver of backstory and setting.

Sample number two

“Good heavens, come in, come in! No question you’re Rorke, Walt told me you looked like you’d tangled with a bulldozer. He didn’t mention the bulldozer won. Are you sure you’re up for this? And I don’t know how you could do this do me –”

“How I could –”

“You’re on time.” She delivered a stunning grin, full of sass and sparkle.

The only information this exchange offers the reader is a peek at the heroine’s character the impression this reader takes from the dialogue is warm, friendly, energetic and playful. In the space of a few words I’m predisposed to like her. The dialogue offers an implied character conflict since we know from the preceding pages the hero is literally wounded, wary and grumpy.

The small surprise - the twist – works well to hook the reader into reading on.

Sample number three

“You actually saw her?”

Lily nodded slowly. “She was crying. And she was afraid.”

“Can you see her now?”

Her quick deep breath sounded like a gasp. “No.” She lurched from the chair and stumbled against the coffee table.

McBride’s heart leaped to hyperspeed as he hurried to Lily’s side. “Are you okay?”

Lots of nice showing instead of telling in this example. His skepticism, her reluctance and the price Lily pays for the psychic vision are all implied. The technique draws the reader in, making them participate in the story.

Sample number four

“If something happens to me, you are not – I repeat – not to go ashore.”

“I know what to do. I’m not stupid, Simon.”

“I know you‘re capable, Janna, but you’re outnumbered and outgunned.”

“No problem. Nothing will happen. You’ll be fine.”

“You’re amazing.”

The implication of danger is blatant. The use of names awkward. Janna’s response, meant to display her plucky nature when taken out of context makes her sound silly, which taints Simon’s praise.

Sample number five

“You’re a dangerous woman,” Boone murmured.

“Me? I can’t even hit the target when we practice.”

“Don’t kid yourself.” He ran his hands over her curves. “You’ve got one hell of an arsenal.”

“I’d feel a lot better if I could shoot straight,” Christie said with a sigh.

“You’ll learn. I’ll teach you.”

“That’s not actually what I want to learn right now,” she whispered, snuggling closer.

A couple in peril with time enough to flirt. Mutual attraction, affection even a sense of commitment.

Sample number six

“Call 911.”

“Quit screaming,” he commanded in his best law enforcement officer’s voice.

“I need a cop!”

Damn. “Lady,” he gritted between his teeth, “I am a cop.”

A conflicted couple. Another nice job of showing emotion. His frustration is obvious, but implied.

All the examples have a common denominator. They are purposeful moving the story forward and showing character and emotion.

Does any of it sing? Not to my ear, but I’m not sure what singing dialogue would sound like.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Free Hit Counters
Free Web Counter