How can you avoid cluttery dialogue? Most of my writing seems to feel like
"Text," PersonA said.
"Text?" PersonB asked.
"Text," PersonC said.
Is this alright or is there a better way to do it?
vary it up, give them physical motions. And often times you can inform who the speaker is by context, so you dont need to label them for each line..
And if someone is asking a question and you end it with a ?, you dont need to say "they asked"
Anon noticed the thread and wanted to help OP.
-Why doesn't he just do it like Joyce?
He then proceeded to write a meta post as an example.
-It may free you from having to think of synonyms of said, you only have to do it when you need to.
He remarked smilingly.
once established that its conversation between person a and person b, take out 'who-said-what'
"Text," PersonA said.
"Text?" PersonB asked
"PersonA replies, continues conversation?"
"It's called running dialogue, dumbass."
"Honestly, Colin, I never expected that sort of behavior from you,"
"Eat my metaphorical shit, Martha. Fuck you, and your unseasoned chicken."
"Text" Person A mused aloud, readjusting his sitting position on the couch.
"Text?" Person B responded, glancing up from her phone.
"Text" replied Person C with a faint hint of derision in her voice.
or something like that, you get the point.
Break it up with the reactions to what someone says if we're talking a one on one conversation or how they present themselves. For example, say that you have a gruff mercenenary talking with a beta client.
Client asks a questions, stutters as the mercenary stares him down without blinking and what have you. Mercenary grins, does something dramatic and cliched before giving an equally cliched response. Procede with the rest of the story. You've now written a YA book, congrats and enjoy the money.
Nothing wrong with dialogue tags for almost every line, lots of great authors did this. Personally though, when I think of good dialogue I think of the dialogue of Confederacy of Dunces. Not only did it mostly play off of context, taking away the need for tags; but when there were tags, they were usually clever (eg: Jones being referred to as "the sunglasses said", and Ignatius being described as "... Ignatius belched, etc)
NO. That's just terrible writing.
OP, you don't need any narration during dialogue scenes unless it's integral to the scene itself. Dialogue is too important to have arbitrary actions crammed into it. The only reason some authors do this is because they're afraid the reader might get bored because "nothing's habbening, it's just talking durr." Just make the dialogue interesting and important so you don't need all that useless crap.
Even dialogue tags aren't important if there's only two characters interfacing. So long as the reader knows who's speaking (this is why diction is very important, if all characters talk the exact same, then the story's just flat as balls), they shouldn't be confused as to who is speaking. I recommend reading Marilynne Robinson, she's good with these kinds of scenes.
maybe the problem is that you're using characters as vessels to get an idea across
i get this impression because the entire dialogue just seems to be in service of explaining something, just trying to make it look organic by having characters talk about it
give an example of where you used this, maybe there are better ways to get the message across than by having characters explain it
i wasn't suggesting adding "arbitrary actions" (obviously, they seemed arbitrary in the example because there was no context) but actions that are important to the scene or characters. i agree with you that this is not necessary or the only way to do it but i would argue that it can be used to good effect. my counter example (from recent memory) are Salinger's short stories. there is a lot of "useless crap" around the dialogues but it really works to make you feel like you're there.
If you respect your reader's intelligence, you don't need to put PersonA said, unless it's removal would be undoubtedly confusing. If you set up a scene in which your characters have voices, and in which there is a clear position that they stand in the conversation, you should be able to get away with just
It's a little bit more difficult with three or more people talking at once. But read Gaddis's JR and it'll really help you in this area.
I don't even think of that as a Joyce thing, I just prefer writing like that, the lack of punctuation gets across the nature of spoken words. Quotation marks are pointless, just pop in a new line and write your scene. There's a reason plays are written like that, it's the best way to write dialogue
- that's not even what it means
- fuck you that's not what it means
- you can't just say that's what it is when they aren't even
- aren't even fucking trying to do that
- you are a fucking idiot.
>repetitive sentence structure
>obvious conscious effort to avoid using "said"
>adverbs and adverbial phrases used most likely redundantly
>running rushed one sentence narrative in between dialog rather than more measured pauses
You're still doing the same thing as OP, you're just not using the word 'said'.
To answer your question OP, you don't just want 'said' said' said', but that doesn't mean to avoid it entirely. It's just as bad to bog down the dialogue with unnecessary descriptions because it doesn't flow. Keep it simple, but not repetitive, and once you've established who's talking you don't keep repeating their names for the audience until someone new enters the conversation.
Don't do that, it's amateur and makes your writing look shoddy.
Honestly the He/She said's blend together after awhile and you don't notice them, the trick is to either not have too much dialogue or to space it out with different shit happening between
"Blah blah blah, gobble de goop." Victoria said
Had she gone insane, James wondered to himself. Here he had been having a rather pleasant discussion with this woman and now here she was babbling nonsense like a complete lunatic, or perhaps he himself had gone mad?
There was a disturbing feeling in the air, like a thickness had slowly been seeping in through the floor boards making his every breathe heavier and labored.
He couldn't help but to wonder if it had something to do with that strange, sparking green tequila the waiter had poured.
Glancing over at his glass, he noticed that condensation had began building up on the outer side of the glass. He hadn't touched it in a while, and even then he had only taken the faintest of sips, not trusting the strange liquid that had been so generously given to him.
Looking back, he met Victoria's eyes.
"The fuck are you talking about woman?"
Victoria gave him a look of puzzlement.
"Blaaaaargh?" She cried.
Standing up, James tossed his napkin to the table.
"Good day, Madame." He said, before turning around and walking away, refusing to put up with such behavior.
"Text," PersonA said.
"Text?" There was a twinge in PersonB's voice. As long as it had been, the oaks were still there, the wind still cold. The rain fell and drowned the earth. Mud wrapped around their boots. But the perpetual motions of their memories here were pierced by the sense of that which had irrevocably ended. In the amassing silence from his companions, the depth of this tragedy was reflected to PersonB. Yet he repeated, "Text?"
see op you don't even NEED that third line for this scene which you have proposed. neither personA nor personC need to even answer personC here.
perhaps i have no right to make such an observation, but usually if the dialogue's good then i don't notice the "said" over and over, it becomes an almost subconscious sign and disappears from notice, even if in reality it's quite repetitive.
Keep the basic components of engaging fiction writing in mind, and it shouldn't be too hard. >>7672814 gave a pretty good example. The dialogue is interesting because the characters are individuals with motives who are interacting, letting conflict drive the scene along. If you're keeping the scene's reason for existence in mind (it's conflict, narrative purpose, etc.), then you should be able to write fairly well after a few tries. Practice makes perfect, too; if you're having a certain problem, take whatever advice people are giving you and try it out over and over again.
1. Don't put anything in the text that isn't absolutely necessary. Beautiful prose is necessary, obviously.
2. Don't get your inspiration for the structure of these things from plays/theatre/films. Go read books with great dialogue. There's a marked difference. Find it.
Is "He doesn't look like much other." clunky sounding? I want to get across the point that he doesn't look like any other person you've ever seen, he's unique looking.
Is there a better way to phrase it while keeping in the same vein?
>tfw you realize what the big problem with your writing is
>you can't create metaphors
I'm pretty sure
>He doesn't look like much other
isn't even grammatically correct. If you're a native English speaker, I'm slightly baffled as to how you even did that, although I suppose extreme tiredness might be an explanation.
The conversation bonfired amidst us. Wild beasts scuttled back, to the taxis and dark rooms, finishing their drinks, yawning, growling.
The room a whirlpool, them pushed to the yellowtint walls, we in the eye holding on the rope of small talk. Water rises, man pukes; another, dragged through the door and to the taxi, finding himself in own's bed tommorow morning alone - driftwood.
Which works best or do both suck? I'm trying to limit myself metaphor-wise and avoid more than one per page.
just do what Tao Lin does and avoid them entirely
Personally, I don't use things like he said/she said, etc. directly following a quotation mark for dialogue at all. I'll start a conversation by pointing out who's talking first, then it's either all dialogue until it ends or dialogue broken up by internal monologue (first person) or reactions from the narrator (third person).
So it'll typically be something like
Narration, dialogue cue.
"Character A's dialogue."
"Character B's dialogue."
X however many times it takes for the exchange between those two specifically to end
narration, dialogue cue.
"Character A's dialogue."
internal monologue/narrator's reaction.
"Character B's dialogue."
X however many times it takes for the conversation to end.
I just always found the ["dialogue." he said/she said, etc.] to be really tacky, elementary school level writing.
a huge part of good dialogue is decent characterisation. as other anons have pointed out, ideally readers should be able to tell them apart without the need to name them all the time. bad writers like rowling have to resort to appending "voldemort said coldly" or whatever after every sentence spoken by the big nasty villain of a seven book epic because otherwise voldemort would be effectively indistinguishable from all of his goons.
if your characters are just vehicles for plot or mouthpieces for your ideas they're gonna be hard to tell apart without resorting to cheap shit like accents or endless unnecessary adjectives.
if your characters are shit, all they'll be able to say to each other is shit. unless you've a bowel disorder most shit looks pretty much the same.