I was down in Chesapeake, Virginia this past Saturday speaking to the Chesapeake Romance Writers about Dialogue.  Had a great time and really enjoyed the group.   Thought I’d share a few tips from my talk.

Know Your Character. Character is the center of all my stories and everything, including dialogue, grows from it.   Does your character have a southern accent?  Does he speak with stutter?  Are his sentences short and clipped or long and meandering?  The answer lies in character.

SAID is not a four-letter word. Many new writers try to avoid said when in fact it is a very effective word.  Not only does it tag or denote which character is speaking but it is nearly invisible to the reader.

Avoid the Data download.   Dialogue can be a great way to reveal back-story but the trick is not to load the reader up with a lot of information all at once.

Don’t Think So Much. Often new writers spend a lot of time with a character’s internal dialogue.  Though it can be effective times, it can also slow down pacing.  If your scene feels slow, have your characters speak their minds and see what happens.

Read Aloud.  Not sure if your dialogue is working, then read it aloud.  I have my computer read back all my books to me.  It’s amazing what looks good on a page falls flat when heard out loud.

P.O.V. Switch.  Scene feeling flat?  Change the P.O.V.  You’ll be amazed how it changes not only the dialogue but the whole mood of the scene.  Who’s P.O.V. should you choose?  I always choose the character with the most at stake.

Silence is Golden.  Sometimes it’s better not to say too much.  Let white space or a character’s silence do the talking.

A few of the attendees at Chesapeake Romance Writers September 2010 meeting.