There are many components to writing a story—plot, conflict, climax, characters, setting, resolution, theme—and the list can go on. Some say there are only five parts that need to be put together for a story, but there are many elements that a writer needs to look at. One of them is my hardest element to implement: Dialogue.
Dialogue is something that I have always struggled with for three specific reasons.
One, the tone. I mostly write sci-fi and fantasy stories/novels, so to bring a new way of speaking into the mix, it is hard to get into the habit of not adding the normal slang or informal speech into your writing that you use every day in conversation.
Example: In my 2013 NaNoWriMo novel, I have stopped myself from writing partial or complete phrases like “this kind of stuff”, but others have made their way in like “give it a try”.
It’s hard to write dialogue to sound as if someone else is talking one way when you yourself speak another. This is obviously a piece about writing that I am still learning about, and it should get easier, but it can definitely cause a rift in the flow of an author writing.
Two, the mannerisms. I recently realized (again through my NaNoWriMo novel) that it is hard to add the little actions of your characters in between writing when you are not comfortable about your characters movements to begin with.
This reason goes along with the third and final reason, so before I offer an example, here is the final difficulty with dialogue that I see: Three, the words themselves.
Example: I have a five-novel series and two other single novels (not including the one I am writing this month). Of the many outlines that I have completed, I have physically written two chapters from the five-novel series, half of one single novel, and one-third of the other.
The problem that I am seeing is that everything that I have written has been from a woman’s point of view except for a few chapters that were about a young boy. I feel that writing from the point of view of a woman is obviously easier for me because I am a girl, and writing from a child’s point of view is easier because I have been a child. BUT, I am not a man, and although that statement seems silly, it means that I have no experience writing AS a man with any of my stories.
Which brings me back to my statement about “the mannerisms” and “the words themselves” being a problem with dialogue. As I have not much experience writing from a man’s point of view, it is hard to add dialogue speaking with words that a man would use and not a woman AND adding specific male mannerisms that I myself do not use.
These three struggles make writing dialogue a difficult part of the story for me as a writer. Not understanding the tone, the language, or the mannerisms can cause an apprehension that may be big enough to stop a writer from adding more dialogue than he or she needs to.
I do a lot of internal conversation within my characters and so do not use as many conversations with characters together. So, does that mean my story doesn’t move along? Not at all. I feel that the conversations I include are used for specific important factors, and everything else should be as described by the character.
Although I feel conversation is very important, I do not think it needs to be added to create movement in the story. It is just another piece used to add information and to complete the story.
Miscelleana Rhinehart is an avid writer and enjoys bringing her stories to life while she also writes for Westchester Mazda dealers.