He Said/She Said: Boosting the Power of Dialogue in Our Writing

Focusing on how our characters speak can be as important as the words they say

Martha Manning, Ph.D.
Writers’ Blokke

--

Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

Dialogue Expands Narrative

Many of us include dialogue in the things we write. It doesn’t matter if it’s “just the facts ma’am” kinds of reporting, or personal essay and creative non-fiction, or fiction, or even poetry. The addition of verbal expression and interaction adds dimension, immediacy and color to the narrative of our stories.

Character creation often depends more upon what our subjects actually say than our descriptions of what they say. Putting words in our subjects’ mouths shows us who they are and what they think.

Qualifying how those words are delivered can add context and color to the character with only one word. That word adds emotion and information about the character or the relationship between two speakers.

It is a verb.

Branch out

The dead weight in characterizing peoples’ expression is the word “said.” It is technically correct as a way to describe what happens when a person opens her mouth, and words came out. The problem? It’s flat and repetitive. It also conveys nothing more than that the speaker produced…

--

--

Martha Manning, Ph.D.
Writers’ Blokke

Dr. Martha Manning is a writer and clinical psychologist, author of Undercurrents and Chasing Grace. Depression sufferer. Mother. Growing older under protest.