Give Your Stories a Voice

Do you want a quick and easy way to liven up your stories? Give them a voice by using dialogue. Dialogue breathes life into stories in a way that’s hard to match.

Think about how you tell a friend about an encounter with someone. Don’t you generally recount the conversation, in a sort of “he said, she said” manner? You probably don’t recite it like you are reading both characters in a play script, but you’ll give the background, then quote a couple of rounds of dialogue, then revert back to description.
This same strategy works in writing. For example, consider the following story clip:

When I called my sister I told her I’d been sewing this afternoon, and it had made me feel young again because it reminded me of the way Mother always insisted that I rip out seams that weren’t perfect.

Compare that clip with the following dialogue and decide for yourself which you’d rather read:

“I feel like I’m fourteen again,” I began when my sister picked up the phone.

“Oh? And why is that?” she asked. I haven’t been that age for several decades now, and in just a few years I’ll have fourteen-year-old grandchildren.

“I spent the afternoon sewing, and I don’t think I’ve spent as much time ripping things out since I was that age,” I explained. We both laughed, remembering what a perfectionist Mother was, and how she’d insist we rip out a seam and redo it if there was the slightest pucker or other imperfection.

Don’t worry about remembering the precise words originally spoken. You won’t. What you will remember are words that express the essence of your memory, and that’s what you want to convey — the essence of the way things were and how they seem to you now. If you don’t quite remember what people said, write what you think they probably said, and chances are you’ll be right.

Why not write a story today and use a little dialogue?

Write on,

Sharon Lippincott, aka Ritergal


Herm said...

I recently completed a story, the subject of which took place 22 years ago. While on a family retreat six of the children got lost in the woods. The park rangers formed a search party because it had gotten dark. I included a lot of dialog by the four sets of worried parents. I got some info from my son (12 then) and daughter (9 then); they were two of the six. From that I wrote dialog for all of them as they fought fear and the elements. We had a party to read the story to them. Afterwards a niece and nephew said,"That was really awesome how you got all our conversations so acurately after so many years." They gave no thought to the fact that I wasn't there and had simply used my imagination from what little my children remembered. I plan on recording it on CD. They have asked if they can read their parts. That will make a great offering to future family. The more you do, the more you can do.

Walks Across said...

to herm: What a great family project, started by your energy for getting it all down for preservation. This encourages me to continue a project with my son-we were lost overnight in Canyonlands, with flash floods going thru the canyons -and no-one knew we were lost-we hiked back out-covering 15 miles in an 18 hour period-he was 9 at the time-now is 35. we are going to use prompts to initiate our seperate writing -then play that off each other.
Good luck with the recording-what a great thing to be able to pass on.
Sharon-once again you are stimulating us to push forward with this affair with the written word-getting close to the heart of our lives and relationships-thanks