Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Revealing Character Through Dialog

“...what people say often conveys their character to others in ways of which they -- the speakers -- are completely unaware.” -- Stephen King in On Writing.
This is something I need to work on. I do well at writing dialog that sounds right for the character. However, I don’t think about how what the character says adds to the reader’s knowledge of that character. As Mr. Kings states, it’s normal for the character to be unaware of this, but as the author, I need to pay attention to not only how a character says something, but why he says it and how his words reflect on him as a character in the story.

4 comments:

Koala Bear Writer said...
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Koala Bear Writer said...

Great quote. Lately I've been studying how dialogue works myself. I love reading authors who get it right, because it's so hard to do!

Jim Harrington said...

Thanks for the link to a very helpful series of articles, Koala Bear Writer. Do you have a favorite author when it comes to dialog? Mine is Robert B. Parker.

As I read How Dialogue Works, it dawned on me that much of what's said also applies to a first person story. The words used, rhythm of the prose, etc., need to match the personality of the character.

Koala Bear Writer said...

Hmmm, tough question. Probably Kathryn Mackel in her novels Outriders and Trackers--her use of slang to indicate the gap between two groups of characters really caught me. And recently, Betty Jane Hegerat's novel Running Toward Home--the dialogue really made the characters.