Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Workshops- Dialogue

My main interest in conference this year was the workshops. For as much as I was spending, I wanted to go to as many as I could. It also means you have to make some choices because of course there are always two workshops going on you want to go to. Fortunately, you can buy the cd's with the workshops taped. In fact, I believe they will be selling the individual workshops on a download basis.

As I said earlier, I did go to the dialogue workshop with Elizabeth Hoyt. I like the cadence of her dialogue in her writing and I had a copy of her handout before the conference so I thought it would be interesting. And it was. But please, when the presenter says there are no stupid questions, don't believe her. THERE ARE!

I'm probably not being fair since I'm sure many of the participants were new to writing, BUT (and I know Olivia backs me on this one) a question can be beat to death as can a topic. And I felt that was what happened in that particular workshop. Still, I did get some tips I hadn't thought about and learned about beats and tags. Tags are "she said's" after a piece of dialogue. A beat is when the character does something in the midst of the dialogue as in
"I'm going to choke that person if they ask anymore questions." Rene beat her head with her binder, "I could really use a drink right now."

Ms. Hoyt explained that beats and tags shouldn't be combined. I'm guilty of that one so now I'm more aware of it. The other really good point she made was that men don't speak as much as women. When we are trying to portray men in our books, remember that simple fact when writing dialogue. Keep their dialogue short. Also (and this I knew) don't avoid contractions in your dialogue. People have always spoken in contractions. Historical writers are quite often guilty of making their characters speak in formal language. But most contractions in the English language have been around for a very long time. She was a good presenter, very funny and eager to share her knowledge.

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