Dialogue in Fiction

Image Credits:-
All images from Pixabay/Pexels unless otherwise stated. Some images created in Book Brush using Pixabay photos. Screenshots taken by me, Allison Symes. Book cover images from Chapeltown Books and Bridge House Publishing.
Hope you have had a good week. I hope to be on a train on my way to Derbyshire by the time this goes out (and it will be lovely to meet up with members of the Association of Christian Writers Committee once again, I’m their Membership Secretary). I’ll be at The Hayes, Swanwick – and I got to book my place for that in August this week so it has not been a bad week at all!

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Facebook – General – and Chandler’s Ford Today

I look at Dialogue in Fiction for my Chandler’s Ford Today post this week. I also include internal dialogue (aka thoughts in this and discuss the use of dialect. I also share my policy on whether a character should swear and list what I think the functions of dialogue should be in any kind of fiction. Hope you enjoy it and find it useful.

Dialogue in Fiction

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Hope you have had a good day. Has been a bit mad here. Glad things are winding down a little. Posts from me over the next couple of days will be at differing times as I am away on Association of Christian Writers business for a couple of days.

Before you ask, Lady isn’t coming but she will be spoiled rotten while I’m away. She always is! She’ll sulk a little when she knows I’ve gone (she tends to look around my side of the bed just to double check I’ve not sneaked back during the middle of the night) but will mug me for all she is worth when I do get back.

Now what is it that you like best about books? Yes, I know. It’s a question of where to start on this one, isn’t it? For me, it’s where I’ve got to the point in the story where I’m rooting for the character to succeed or fail because I know the book has now gripped me and I will just have to read on to find out what happens. And it doesn’t matter whether I’m reading a flash piece or an epic fantasy trilogy, that point doesn’t change for me.

My next favourite bit is getting to the end of the tale and finding the author has made good on their promise – the character has succeeded or failed, as is appropriate for them and the story they’re in. I must admit I do feel so disappointed if I’ve read a story with promising and interesting characters and then find the ending falls flat. But the best ending in the world won’t work for me if I’m not gripped by the characters in the first place.

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Many thanks for the views on No B Gratitude, my latest YouTube story. This is a short and fun tale and I manage to get a pun in on the choice of music for this too. I’m off at an ACW Committee Retreat soon so I may well be putting up a video later than usual next week. Will just have to see how things go. Likewise for getting a piece in to Friday Flash Fiction but I am really enjoying producing something for both of these things once a week. Keeps me on my toes and I am finding more uses for the random generators I love so win win!

Facebook – From Light to Dark and Back Again

I hope by the time you read this I will be in lovely Derbyshire on Association of Christian Writers business for a couple of days. (I’m their Membership Secretary). But right now it is the end of the week and time for my weekly drabble. Glad to share my latest on Friday Flash Fiction and this one is called Timing. Again I used a random generator for this and the question behind it was what was the most recent silly thing you did? So I got my character here to answer that one! All great fun and I hope you enjoy it.

https://www.fridayflashfiction.com/100-word-stories/timing-by-allison-symes

Screenshot 2022-02-04 at 08-57-53 Timing, by Allison Symes

Screenshot 2022-02-03 at 21-31-38 Friday Flash Fiction

 

Your first audience for any story you writer is, of course, you. If you’re not gripped by the characters and the situation they’re in, nobody else will be. This is why I outline my character so I can get a “feel” for who they are, what they’re capable of, and as a result I can determine whether they really do have a story in them that should be told.

With flash fiction I reach that “yes, got to write this character up” stage very quickly indeed and you get better over time (and with practice) at spotting promising characters earlier. I don’t always know the length of the story at this point unless I am writing to a specific word count market such as Friday Flash Fiction, but I don’t let that worry me. I get the story down. I edit it. I leave it for a bit and then look at it again and read it as a reader would. I ask myself tough questions particularly of the “do I really need this in here” variety! That question is useful because you have to be able to say an emphatic “yes” to that one.

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Hope you have had a good day. Lady got to play with her best pal, the Rhodesian Ridgeback today. Two tired and happy dogs went home again. I do sometimes write flash pieces based around dogs. One of them is Jumping Through Hoops from From Light to Dark and Back Again. Let’s just say I am very much on the side of the poor dog in this one!

Fairytales with Bite – Dreams and Nightmares

Most of the classic fairytale characters go through a nightmare stage before their dreams come true (though it is always useful if you have a kindly fairy godmother turn up armed with a large wand and bigger pumpkin!).

In your fictional world, are your characters able to make their dreams come true and is this dependent on magic (whether it’s their own or someone else intervening to help them)? What would count as a nightmare situation for your characters and how do they overcome that?

Of course one person’s nightmare could be someone else’s dream – the villain wants their schemes to succeed, it would be their dream come true. How can you ratchet up the tension between Character A trying to make those schemes succeed and Character B who desperately needs them to fail? There should be plenty at stake here – just what do your characters have to lose or gain?

In a magical world, is the meaning of dreams taken seriously? Who interprets them? Do they do this honestly and do your characters act on what they have been told? What are the consequences of that?

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This World and Others – Interactions

Fiction is dependent on interactions between characters. Story is dependent on conflict and resolution (even if the latter is not a happy one) so there has to be a case of a character wanting something and something/someone else getting in the way of them obtaining that.

Sometimes the conflict can be an internal one – the character wants to change some aspect of themselves and struggles to do so. You see glimpses of this with Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. There are times Frodo’s more positive attitude towards Gollum seems to be paying off and other times when Sam’s cynical view of Gollum is justified.

So yes a character can interact with themselves and Gollum does that a lot. Not necessarily to his own benefit either. For the record, I see Gollum as a tragic, evil character whereas Sauron is just evil. There is a huge difference here. I don’t like Gollum but the possibility of redemption is there – whether he takes it or not is another matter.

How do interactions between your characters play out? Does on character always seem to get the upper hand or is there more of a balance? The problem with dominant characters, as with dominant people full stop, can be they cause resentment (and rebellion) in others. Interactions matter – they fuel the conflict which is the heart of any story.

So give thought to what you want your characters to do and why they are the way they are. With Gollum, you can see what led him to become the creature he became. Your readers need to do that with your characters – and indeed with mine!

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