Monday, 14 November 2011

When the gab is not a gift

I'm currently in my favourite part of novel writing. It's the part where the story starts to work by itself, and new little tendrils of storyline sprout in unexpected directions when I'm in the shower, going to sleep, or out for a walk.

The words are pouring out, and my characters suddenly have a lot to say to each other. The problem is, I've just looked down at a page and realised that my characters have done nothing but talk for ages. Talk, talk, talk.

Ok, so there's the odd smile, the odd nod, the odd looking out of the window and thinking about stuff, but pretty much nothing is happening except the characters discussing things.

So how much talk is too much?

A quick google led me to this very useful blog, which led to a few others:

It seems I need to do the following:
- Get rid of any part of the conversation that is every day or commonplace (do you want a cup of tea? Why yes, thank you. Lovely weather, isn't it?)
- Use narration to connect scenes
- Add gestures, tones, thoughts to break up the dialogue, every three to five lines or so
- Use dialogue only for conflict, not for exposition. (I found this one tricky - you shouldn't use narration for exposition either, the old 'show don't tell' how do you get exposition across? I guess the answer is, you don't. You let the reader work it out. Sounds brilliant, in theory at least).

So, here I go. Out comes the red pen.

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