UMM…SORRY, EXCUSE ME!
“Do you like your tea with sugar?”
“How many cubes?”
“Aah…one, yeah one is fine.”
Alfred Hitchcock once said that a good story was “life, with the dull parts taken out.”
So, unless this was a dialogue in a play or a movie or else that part of your story where the cube of sugar plays an important role, the above mentioned section of dialogue would make any reader cringe and no author can afford that to happen.
Dialogues often contribute to increasing the white space on a page and accompany a dilemma faced by a writer: Narrative or dialogue? They are a means of taking the story forward, its magnitude depending upon the genre the novel belongs to. Many a times, as you must have especially noticed in movies and teevee serials, dialogues are a way of revealing information and character motivations.
A good way to understand the difference between a real-life dialogue and the way it is used in a novel is to eavesdrop on a conversation between two people. You would hear a lot of Ahs, Umms, and even Ohs, which would act as real speech breakers in your novel. Editing the dialogues to make them relevant and snappy can be done once the novel is written. If you are writing the first draft, dialogues could crop up and you might even write them as dialogues. In case your first draft is written as a narrative they could be the base from which your dialogues would emerge, taut and to the point.
Some quick tips to writing dialogues in your first draft:
You might actually use narrative form in your first draft and add the dialogues later.
Dialogues should serve a purpose without the use of bulky words and expressions.
It is not always necessary to use dialogue tags such as said, expostulated, revealed and so on. They way the dialogues are written – such as starting on a fresh line for each new character that speaks – should enable the reader to judge who is doing the talking.
Giving different characters different talking quirks helps to avoid dialogue tags and increase the interest level of the novel.
Peruse a lot of novels to understand the correct punctuation of the dialogues.
How do your characters…err… umm… talk? How wordy are the dialogues in your novel?