5 Dialogue Sins Deb Kelly Has Committed

1. Hello, My Name is:

“Hi Susan!”

“Hi Carol.”

“Susan, how are you?”

“Awesome, Carol. How are you?”

“So awesome, Susan. Have you seen the new book by Kelly Harms, Susan?”

“No, I haven’t, Carol. Do you think it’s any good?”

“No, Susan, I don’t. Not unless she got a really good editor.”

2. Play-by-Play and Color:

“Hi again, Carol! I’m just going to go turn on this light in the closet and look in here to see if I have anything for your clothing drive.”

“Great, while you do that, I will take off my hat and gloves.”

“Super. Hey, look, I do have this wedding dress I don’t want anymore. My husband left me because he said I described everything I do whenever I speak. I will pick it up now and hand it to you.”

“Thanks! I’ll take it from you now and put it in my car.”

3. Exposition, Exposed:

“Oh, Susan, that brown hair color looks great on you. Clearly you are thriving ever since your husband left you last year during the charity clothing drive.”

“Thank you, Carol. I see you have not lost the weight from your failed stint as a restaurant reviewer that you tried after getting fired at your job in event planning. Did that angry chef ever return your Apple brand laptop?”

4. Fancy Taggin’:

“You know what I miss? I miss when people used to just say things,” Carol sighed woefully.

“Me too, Susan.” Carol parroted. She paused for a moment, then amended, “Still though, it is nice to know exactly how something gets said. You know, adverbs do have their place,” she added thoughtfully.

“Sure, but at what cost?” queried Susan meditatively.

“What cost indeed,” echoed Carol pensively.

5. The Party Line:

“Susan, you are the best. Through thick and thin–literally–you’ve always been there for me.”

“You too, Carol.”

“You too, Francine.”

“You guys are all the best. Thanks for your support as I learned to be a slightly less awful dialogue writer, especially you. You were always there for me.”

“You who? Does anyone know who she’s indicating here?”

“You, of course. Thanks a lot. Really. I’m not being sarcastic.”

“Wait. Does anyone here know who is even talking right now? I’m not even sure who I am at this point. If my opinion ever starts to differ from my peers in this conversation, the reader is going to be totally lost.”

“Totally lost. I have no earthly idea what’s going on anymore. I mean, if we were real, I would see someone’s lips moving, and we wouldn’t need dialogue tags. But we are totally not real. We’re fictional characters. We need dialogue tags. Just not onerous ones.”

Intoned Francine.

7 Replies to “5 Dialogue Sins Deb Kelly Has Committed”

  1. “This should be a dialogue bible,” she says, noting that she hates when writers go on and on after where there should definitely be a period.

  2. Play-by-play reminds me of Shakespeare. Here we are, in the square! Who’s that coming? I’m going to bite my tongue at him.

    In my line of work, it’s “said” or “added.” That’s. It. I can’t use laughed or admitted or allowed. No chuckled or whispered. People say things, and then they add to them, and that’s all that ever happens, amen.

    1. Shakespeare gets away with a lot. We should all be glad he never read my blog posts. OR DID HE? I don’t even know what that means, Lindsay. Thank you for your comment!

  3. This is awesome. I’ve totally done every one of these, and it cracked me up to read them. I still have to be vigilant about exposition – particularly because I’m writing in a historical period most people don’t know and I do have to get information into the storyline. It’s easy to get lazy with it, so I have to stay on the alert, and even so…yep, I find it in every early draft.

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