Friday, June 3, 2011

Revision Friday: Dialogue

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I'm neck-deep into revising my WIP. I'm going over all my dialogue, because it's one of the "fastest ways to improve your fiction," according to James Scott Bell in chapter six of his book,Revision and Self-Editing. 

Bell does a wonderful job of breaking dialogue into eight essential characteristics. One of these is to make your dialogue full of subtext. He explains that dialogue should be like an "iceberg",the part we read on the page and the part underneath the surface. There should be layers beneath the surface of story,character,and theme.

1- What has happened in the story so far will affect the present. This is the back story...whether it's presented in the story or not it should effect the dialogue.

2- It's important to "know your character's deep background-the events that shaped her from childhood on." In Susan Collin's, Hunger Games,we don't fully understand why Katniss is so curt with her mother until later. 

3- Often writers say that theme doesn't emerge until much later in the writing process. So once your themes have shown themselves you can go in and tailor your dialogue. Then when the reader discovers the theme, the conversation is more meaningful in retrospect.

Bell, James Scott.Revision and Self-Editing:Techniques for Transforming Your First Draft into a Finished Novel.Ohio: Writers Digest Books,2008.

So now you know what I'm busy working on. What's on your plate today?


  1. Sub text is hard to get right. I'm always working on it. I just finished rewriting a chapter and now will be getting ready for my daughter to have a sleep over tonight! Have a good weekend.

  2. An incredible week on my WIP, but not so much on the blogging. Thank you belatedly for finding my posts. Looking forward to more of yours.

  3. Hi Laura, I remember those sleep overs, way more giggling than sleeping. One thing I found challenging is making sure the subtext shows up throughout the entire novel.

    Wanton Redhead, Glad you had a great week with your WIP. I have surgery coming up so I'm probably going to have to choose between blogging and my WIP. I'm just not superwoman!


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