Anatomy of a Scene

More on Dialogue

It’s been a few weeks since my last post. It feels like it’s been months. I have finished production on Literary Wanderlust’s upcoming thriller, Mind Virus. I finished a freelance gig, and started a second one. I hosted a four-day writer’s retreat. And I have my keynote speech nearly finished for PubCon17 this weekend.

It’s now time to get back on schedule with the blog posts.

Where were we? Oh, yeah. The Anatomy of a Scene.

To recap, I like the concept and practice of writing your novel in scenes because I find that it leads to better writing. Each scene is set up to orient the reader in space and time. Each scene moves the story forward. Each scene has a beginning, middle, and an ending. Each scene is a “compact” piece of your novel and once you have finished writing that scene, you are ready to move to the next, especially if you plotted. It’s a quick and dirty way to write your drafts.

Last time we touched on writing dialogue in scenes, and I thought it would be good to continue with that same topic.

What are some uses of dialogue?

Dialogue can reveal details about your character in a way prose can’t.

  • You can show how your character acts when under duress. Their speech reveals how they handle stress.
  • Your character’s words can reveal their true nature. Does your character say that he is suave? Do his words reflect that as truth, or do they show he is awkward with the ladies?
  • Your character can also express feelings about the current state of affairs in your novel, which will show her personality.

Dialogue can add tension through verbal tête-à-tête.

  • Your characters can argue and insult each other.
  • Manipulation attempts are a great way to add tension. For example, one character will try to manipulate another with or without the other’s awareness.
  • Your character can attempt to persuade another character not interested in the truth.
  • Your character can defend themselves against false accusations.

Important points of using dialogue in scenes:

  • Never let your characters blather on pointlessly and purposelessly. Pointless blathering is boring.
  • Readers interpret dialogue as action, so use it to pick up the pace in slower scenes.
  • Dialogue can be used to foreshadow future events, thereby creating interest and intrigue for your reader.
  • Use dialogue to reveal your character’s personality, and to reveal their intentions.
  • Use argument and persuasion to increase conflict and reveal character.

Until next time!


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