How Writers Can Seek and Destroy Banal and Obvious Dialog

FatalFlaw_8-150x150I’m blogging at Live, Write, Thrive today. This month, we’re looking at Fatal Flaw of Fiction #8, Flawed Dialog Construction. Here’s a sneak peek of the post:

This month, we’ve been discussing writing great dialog. I’ve heard editors say that when they’re evaluating a manuscript, they’ll check the first block of dialog to see how the author handles it. The manuscripts of authors who don’t have a handle on dialog get passed over. It’s that important.

The problem is that dialog needs to sound realistic, but you don’t want it to be realistic, for one very good reason—realistic dialog is boring. Here’s an example of what I mean. In this passage, the heroine, Reagan, is desperate to get some information from Walter.

Before:

Walter answered on the second ring. “Walter Boyle.”

“Hi, Walter. It’s Rae.”

“Wow, Rae. How are you?”

“I’m okay, Walter. How about you?”

“Oh, it’s been busy. I love my job, though. Working as a reporter for the New York Times was always my dream job, so I’m not going to complain. I haven’t heard from you in months. I’ve been calling and calling, but you never call me back. Where have you been? What’s been going on with you?”

“I’m glad you still love your job. I’ve been . . .” She thought of the infant sleeping upstairs. “Busy. Listen, I need a favor.”

“Of course you need a favor. You always need a favor. You practically fall off the edge of the world, but as soon as you need something, then you call me. First, you need to tell me what you’ve been up to.”

“I really don’t have time to go into all of that right now. And it was awkward, you know, because we were together, and now I’m with someone else. I didn’t know how you felt about that. But still, I really need a favor.”

Bored yet? Read the rest of the post–and a much better version of this dialog exchange, at Live, Write, Thrive.

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