Cut it out! Pare it down. Weed out unnecessary words. Instead of a long, flowery sentence, like this one, sometimes the use of shorter sentences can add sizzle and shine to your dialogue and make it dazzle. Click to Tweet #DazzlingDialogue #amwriting
Omit Needless Words
This is how I learned it in Christian Writers’ Guild classes. Although we were also taught to vary our sentence length. Have a short sentence. Follow it with a longer sentence, that maybe puts in more detail, and yet still grabs the reader. See what I mean.
In dialogue this is important, because even though dialogue is a lot the way we talk, it’s a stylized version of the way we talk. I think I discussed this in an earlier post. We can eliminate the “Uhs” and “Ums” (at least most of them), the “y’know what I mean?” expressions, etc. to show the meat of what’s being said.
Using the character’s voice, but omitting stumble or thinking words, helps the reader differentiate between the characters. This too is in an earlier post.
So…what you’ll want to do, in your self-editing process, is to look for ways to cut down your dialogue and take out needless words.
The only character in my novel, Meghan’s Choice, that I allow to “get away with” too many words, is Olivia Baldwin, the owner of the boardinghouse. When she gets nervous or excited, she talks a blue streak. Let’s take a look at one short section of dialogue between Olivia, and the cowboy, Duncan. (Notice he always drops his subjects. That’s the way he talks until he’s more comfortable around the person). It is from Duncan’s POV.
Olivia cradled her chin in her hand. “Yes. Oh, lordy, she’s going to need a lot of care. That girl is already only one step above helpless, and now this.”
“Ma’am, shall we go? Guessin’ she’ll still be a little weak after her spell.”
“She fainted? I guess I would, too … from shock and fright and all.” Mrs. Baldwin dropped the towel she held and grabbed her shawl.
Duncan said nothing, but only half-listened to the woman prattle on. “How will that girl manage now? The only thing she knows how to do is make her bed. Oh, lordy, I’m gonna have to cut up her food, get her dressed, just everything. I’ve got an invalid on my hands. As if I didn’t have enough to do, and now this.”
Many times, we write too many words, when a shorter, more succinct sentence will do, especially in dialogue. To make it sparkle and dazzle, pare it down and cut it out! Click to Tweet #amwriting #DazzlingDialogue