Huge Dialogue Blocks

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Roswenthe
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Huge Dialogue Blocks

Post by Roswenthe » November 11th, 2010, 5:20 pm

My characters often have a lot to say, and usually all at once. Can there be too much dialogue? How do you effectively break up soliloquizing? Is it even necessary?

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cheekychook
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Re: Huge Dialogue Blocks

Post by cheekychook » November 11th, 2010, 5:31 pm

Roswenthe wrote:My characters often have a lot to say, and usually all at once. Can there be too much dialogue? How do you effectively break up soliloquizing? Is it even necessary?
Under most circumstances, yes, it is necessary to break it up. Adding actions and visuals can be an effective way. People don't usually just sit still and break into a soliloquy. They shift position, their facial expression changes, a dog barks in the background, the phone rings, the condensation runs down their iced tea glass, their chair creaks, the person they're talking to nods, sneezes, looks bored, starts crying, tugs at his/her collar, the sun begins to set, thunder rumbles, a shot rings out---wow, if these counted as my NaNo words I'd be really cranking along today.... That said, there are times when a character can get away with asoliloquy---actors love to find them in scripts---but even then they usually break up the speaking with their own quirks and mannerisms.
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Re: Huge Dialogue Blocks

Post by sbs_mjc1 » November 11th, 2010, 5:54 pm

I agree with cheekychook: describing someone's body language is a great way to break up monologues, as it gives some insight into the character. If you're in the POV of the character giving the speech, you can have bits of their thoughts there as well, especially if the thoughts are not quite what the character is saying, or if there's another layer to their motivations. Likewise, if your viewpoint character is being talked at, they can have their own thoughts on the other character's speech.
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Roswenthe
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Re: Huge Dialogue Blocks

Post by Roswenthe » November 11th, 2010, 6:51 pm

Thanks for the advice! I do have some body language, but it seems like I sort of default to the same ones. I also do have some internal commentary by the characters, but I think I could do more with that. Perhaps I should make some lists for each character of the type of quirks they tend to have, and I can play with those.

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Re: Huge Dialogue Blocks

Post by Guardian » November 11th, 2010, 6:56 pm

You may use the followings to break a long dialogue;

- Tell what your character see (i.e. Shadows sneaking behind him, reaction of the other character, something at the far, etc, etc...)
- Tell what your character hear (i.e. music, wind's whistling, the conversation of the mass around the character, etc, etc...)
- Tell what your character feel (i.e. wind, rain, snow, moisty air, etc, etc...)
- Tell what your character think (Inner thoughts)
- Show Reactions and counter reactions
- Show inner emotions and visible emotions of the other character
- Show character expressions and visible expressions of the other character

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Re: Huge Dialogue Blocks

Post by polymath » November 11th, 2010, 8:06 pm

Soliloquy is the act of talking to one's self aloud in a dramatic monologue. A point could be made it's liking hear one's self talk. Soliloquy nonetheless can be a form of conversation or dialogue frequently of a lecturing nature.

Colloquy is conversational dialogue. Colloquy can be somewhat like playing badminton with live handgrenades and no one knows when one will go off.

Interrogatory dialogue is question and answer conversation.

Echo dialogue is repeating but adding to what's been said before.

Dialogue is generally taken for granted as spoken aloud; however, other discourse types serve similar purposes: interior discourse or thoughts or introspection and indirect discourse, which is reported discourse not reported as spoken in dialogue.

Dialogue tends to be faster paced in story time than narrative time and more interesting to readers. Dialogue is one of few of the writing modes where story time pace is mostly consistent with real time and at a mostly immutable rate comparable to any given reader's reading pace. The averages are for speaking roughly 150 words per minute and reading roughly 150 words per minute and up. However, long blocks of uninterrupted discourse drag on and on and begin to feel like a lecture.

The several writing modes include conversation or dialogue and dialogue attributions; and description, introspection, action, narration, emotion, sensation, summarization, exposition, conversation, recollection, explanation, and transition: DIANE'S SECRET. Any combination or permutation of which can break up dialogue into manageable units. Introspection, action, emotion, and sensation combinations and permutations emphasis are the ideals for best practices.
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Re: Huge Dialogue Blocks

Post by Quill » November 11th, 2010, 8:19 pm

In real life we can probably all think of times we listened to someone or other go on and on with nary any input from us for minutes on end. Often multiple times in the same "conversation". In fiction, though, it's usually best to limit any character's speech to a max of three sentences before going to an action or another character's words. Otherwise it seems like pontification and is likely to lose the reader. That's only a rule of thumb, though.

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Re: Huge Dialogue Blocks

Post by polymath » November 11th, 2010, 8:36 pm

And a long one speaker dialogue block begins to feel like a disembodied statue head speaking from an undefined white space and soon begins to feel like a disembodied recorded voice coming from nowhere.
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Re: Huge Dialogue Blocks

Post by cheekychook » November 11th, 2010, 9:06 pm

Quill wrote:In real life we can probably all think of times we listened to someone or other go on and on with nary any input from us for minutes on end. Often multiple times in the same "conversation". In fiction, though, it's usually best to limit any character's speech to a max of three sentences before going to an action or another character's words. Otherwise it seems like pontification and is likely to lose the reader. That's only a rule of thumb, though.
Minutes on end? I've known people who can go on for hours. But they still pause, at least for heavy sighs or other dramatic additions to their chatter.
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Re: Huge Dialogue Blocks

Post by Sommer Leigh » November 12th, 2010, 8:59 am

I've known people who could talk forever about a single topic or bounce around like a four year old after a Halloween candy binge. The thing is, there is always a lot more going on then what the person is saying. We live in a world of multi-taskers, so it is doubtful there are many people anymore who can just sit and talk. They talk and do other things, even if it is something as simple as twist and untwist the cap of their water bottle as they talk (I do this) or gesture wildly while they tell their story. Likewise, most people don't really listen intently to these big dialogue dumps. We tend to space out and think about other things, popping back into the story every couple of minutes to catch an update or to mumble along like they are listening. Or the listener multi-tasks while the other talks.

But even before you get to the "What else is happening" it is always worth double checking what exactly is requiring you to do a big dialogue. History lessons are a particular pet peeve of mine when I'm reading and someone walks up to the main character and starts explaining a major war to them. History lessons are clearly for the reader.

Remember also that most people don't really say what they mean. We tend to not say exactly what we are feeling or thinking but we like to abbreviate or censor ourselves depending on who we are speaking to. Usually when I have huge blocks of dialogue I do a sort of pulse check on it to see whether one character is speaking to another character or whether I am speaking to the reader. Usually I realize I'm speaking to the reader and changing my perspective on the dialogue can make it easier to cut down.

Check out author Lauren Oliver's blog starting on September 26: http://laurenoliverbooks.blogspot.com/2 ... logue.html and continuing all the way through October. She spent almost a month talking about dialogue and a lot of her advice is pretty awesome. I found it to be a big help, anyway.
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