Dialogue and character series: 1st installment
What a thriller writer has to say about dialogue and character
By Mel Comley
When Thea asked me do this article I thought, hmm… I’ll give it a go.
But when I got down to writing, I found it far harder than I’d anticipated.
I’m one of those writers who used to hate using dialogue but who now loves it. I have to say that I’d rather create a dialogue scene than a descriptive scene any day.
I think not only does it balance a book/novel out but also makes for a more interesting read.
At the beginning of my journey I was told that my writing consisted of too much tell and not enough show.
Now, I tend to use dialogue as a form of getting around this all too familiar issue.
But dialogue has a far greater importance in the whole story-telling scenario, it’s main job is to make it is easy to differentiate between the characters. In real life we all speak differently so it’s equally important that as writers we make our characters do the same.
Yes, it gets harder the more books/novels you write, to try and create new characters who can easily be identified by what they say. But it’s an absolute must in our line of business.
As writers we all strive to make our books and our characters stand out from the rest. Having distinctive characters, using realistic and not stereotypical dialogue helps us to achieve these results, hopefully!
I spend hours playing around with a character before installing them in my books. I write down each character and an example of what each of them might say.
When I was learning about the art of writing I had a book full of different exercises. One of these exercises was to name all your characters and in the following column write down what each character would say for a certain item or room. For example: In the UK we have a tendency to use different words for the room in which we relax in after we’ve completed a hard day’s work, depending on what class we are. It can be known as a lounge (used by middle-class people) sitting room (usually used by the lower class.) Whereas in the good old days, the same room would have been known as a Parlour and was only really used for entertaining purposes on special occasions.
Take that one step further, during the use of dialogue you can also hint at the different dialects people use. An example of this is again using the UK terminology: A person speaking from in the extreme north of England would say ‘Away with ya,’ and they tend to call people ‘Pet’ all the time. But in the south we have a saying that people sound like country bumpkins and we tend to imagine them talking with a piece of straw hanging out of the mouths, saying things such as: ‘How’s you doin’, me luvly?’
So for me there really is only one way to write a novel and that’s to write a character driven novel. We all need to see our characters come alive on the page and help create a stunning novel that thousands will read.
I receive numerous messages daily either via email or on Facebook from fans telling me they love the Lorne books. I refer to my thrillers as ‘The Justice’ series but it makes me happy knowing that I’ve done my job by creating a wonderful and distinctive character who is loved by many.
I am a best-selling thriller writer who has started dabbling in different genres. I live in Northern France with my two crazy dogs who love to drag me round the village every morning. As a writer it’s the only form of exercise I get.
You can find out more about my books on my website: www.melcomleybooks.com
or my blogs
Follow me on twitter @melcom1
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- Conflict in Dialogue (writerswritedaily.wordpress.com)
- Writing: Dialogue Is Not A Dirty Word (pittsburghflashfictiongazette.com)
- Writing Believable Dialogue – 2. Style Choices (bardicblogger.wordpress.com)
- Speaking of character…A plea to newbie writers who plan to publish (theaatkinson.wordpress.com)