Tuesday, January 17, 2012

California Girl Chronicles Praised for its Dialogue and Why it's Important to Storytelling

"The dialogue is enticing yet real, which Michelle uses to bring more depth to her characters than initially meets the eye." ~ Ziggy Soto, New Book Review


Today's topic du jour: the importance of writing great dialogue and its value to the storytelling process. What Ziggy caught and mentioned in that book review is a dead-on perception of what I did with the dialogue in California Girl Chronicles. It's nice when readers get it. Another reviewer on Amazon made mention of the use of the dialogue, too. She referred to it as pedestrian, which means commonplace. So let me make some points about the value and importance of great dialogue when telling a compelling, grounded and realistic story that feels authentic and real. 


Keeping it real. First, great one-liners are always memorable, yes. As I more than posted here on the blog, one-liners become completely unforgettable in both film and books. Great dialogue becomes just as memorable, but also it grounds the story in reality and helps readers suspend disbelief. When the Amazon reviewer called it pedestrian, that is a huge compliment. Most people don't talk like they're giving speeches. Our everyday chats with people are quite pedestrian and often about nothing important. You want your pedestrian dialogue to drive the story, of course, so you don't want characters talking about pancakes when your story has absolutely nothing to do with pancakes. When Lance asks Brea if he can kiss her and her response is simply, "No, but you can take me out," it's meant to get them going and onward in the story. It establishes Lance's desire to simply make love to her and her unwillingness to do so at that point in the story. When about to go out for the evening, Lance isn't going to discuss mundane things like pancakes unless, of course, you're trying to make a point that this guy is a big bore. Also, since Brea has a sense of humor, she is the witty and sarcastic character. So, she has some of the funniest things to say.


Points of View. What Ziggy Soto points out is critical. California Girl Chronicles is a first-person narrative. How do we get to know the other characters when we're up in Brea's head? Their actions and "words" have to inform the reader about them and who they are. I used the dialogue with the other characters to tell the reader what he/she needs to know about those characters: how they think and who they are as people. This point also drives home the point of the importance of "voice". You need to make sure your character's voices are clearly their own. They do not sound the same. They are applicable voices for the character's age and background. As I've said in the past, find a person to base your characters upon. I always use someone to model my characters after. It helps me. 

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