Wednesday, February 4, 2015

The Importance of Dialogue with Elise Abram

The Importance of Dialogue

"Conversation #1" by Angus Cameron

Reading should be an immersive activity in which you experience everything the point of view (POV) character experiences. A good narrative should give the reader a fly-on-the-wall-with-extra-sensory-perception feeling in which everything the POV character sees, hears, feels, and occasionally tastes and smells is related. The ESP comes when we hear the POV character's thoughts. This helps to establish pathos, a sense of empathy, compassion and the ability to put myself into the protagonist's shoes.

What about dialogue?

Every seasoned writer has heard the old adage "Show, don't tell". It's the first thing I teach my Writer's Craft students, repeating it as a mantra to them throughout the semester. Dialogue is the best way to show your audience what motivates your main character.

To demonstrate, consider this:

John said he was mad.

Here the narrator tells the reader what John has said, that John is mad. We know nothing about John's thoughts, or his level of agitation. Rather than tell us what John's said, let your characters speak for themselves.

"I'm mad," John said.

Though this time John is allowed to speak for himself, this excerpt gives the reader nothing more than the first example of telling.

John felt the blood rise in his temples. "I'm so angry I could spit," he said.
Here the author tells us what John's feeling in the moments before he speaks. Something's happened that has clearly agitated him. He's not just mad, he's angry, really angry.

Dialogue doesn't just show detail, it helps advance plot ("Don't follow me," he told her and he climbed into his pick-up, that old Dodge beater he'd bought on Craig's List for a song.), and character ("I hate it when she does that.") to show the characters' thoughts and feelings in a way being told these things (He told her not to follow him and he got into his truck and drove away.) by a disembodied narrator can't.

About the Author:

Elise Abram is a high school English and Computer Studies teacher, former archaeologist, avid reader and student of the human condition. Everything she does, watches, reads and hears is fodder for her writing. In her spare time she experiments with Paleo cookery, knits badly, and writes.

Her book:

Raised from the dead as a revenant more than a hundred years ago, Zulu possesses superior stealth, superhuman speed, and a keen intellect. His only companion is Morgan the Seer, an old man cursed with longevity and the ability to see the future in his dreams. Zulu has spent the last century working with Morgan in order to save the people in his nightmares from horrible fates. Branded a vigilante by the media, Zulu must live his life in the shadows, traveling by night or in the city's underground unless his quest demands otherwise.

Morgan also has enemies. His twin brother Malchus, a powerful necromancer, is raising an army of undead minions to hunt Morgan down. Will they be able to stop Morgan from raising his army? How will they kill someone as powerful as Malchus? Is there more at stake than just their own lives?

You can pick up Elise's book at Amazon by clicking on the cover.

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