7 Tricks To Differentiating Dialogue – Geoff Le Pard

7 tricks to differentiating dialogue

I am truly honoured to be part of my wonderful blogging buddies blog book tour. Geoff Le Pard is a writer an author extraordinaire, as well as being a half decent ex lawyer and a seriously nifty weekly flash fiction contender.  But by far the best of his accolades is the fact he is a member of the Annual Bloggers Bash Committee! :p

This week, Geoffle is teaching us about differentiating dialogue between characters, and he is using his experience from his brand spanking, freshly published (go buy it) book My Father and Other Liars. Without further ado, Geoffle…. take it away.

My father and other liars final for kindle 6 JulyMy Father and Other Liars is the second book by Geoff Le Pard. Published in August it is available as an ebook and paperback here:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

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In My Father and Other Liars, the main characters span the generations and continents. I needed to make sure they sounded both sufficiently distinct and credible. The best way to draw this out is through the dialogue. I love dialogue. There, said it! It helps me breathe life into my characters in ways no amount of prose can. So what are the top 7 things I have either learnt from writing dialogue?

TRICK ONE

How old is the speaker? Youngsters have a very specific slang. A little goes a long way. If it’s a contemporary story the TV is great source or any café where you can overhear young people – they rarely keep the volume down! If you are setting your story, say, 10 years ago then TV dramas and sitcoms are perfect. You really only need to sprinkle a little into any speech – like salt on your chips. Once the speaker is above 30 they tend to be more considered, using less current slang which brings us to…

TRICK TWO

Accents and dialect and regional inflections. Even three Londoners of similar age and background will sound different and use different phrases. Each can be given a verbal tick perhaps. Most of us have what you might call a ‘thinking phrase – classically ‘you know’ where the speaker gains a valuable fraction of a second – if you use this sparingly while another speaker drops in an occasional ‘like’ you soon create a difference. Or it may be a ‘dunno’ or an ain’t’. Estuary English is ripe to poach: – dropping the odd ‘h’ at the start of ‘g’ at the end of words can do it. But, and I can’t emphasise this enough, only use them sparingly; otherwise it can irritate your reader.

TRICK THREE

If your character is not from an English speaking country and you want them to speak in their first language then maybe use a common phrase to start, a greeting perhaps, in their language to indicate they are speaking in their mother tongue before reverting to English. Writing subtitles is boring!

See more of Geoff on his blog tour

See more of Geoff on his blog tour

TRICK FOUR

By the same token, if your character is an English speaker but, say, American or Australian be very careful about both slang figures of speech and spellings. Personally if my character is American and they say ‘program’ I spell it the American way. In the book I’ve had a real problem with ‘Ass’ not ‘Arse’ for the US speakers: one of my two main protagonists is from Oklahoma. I am indebted to my Beta Reader Paula Moyer, who grew up in Oklahoma, for helping me eradicate some of my worst failings and, as crucially, adding in some phrases that help establish Lori Ann’s credentials to an informed reader.

TRICK FIVE

People rarely speak in soliloquys. Keep sentences short, break them up. If you have to recount back story in dialogue (and try not to) then break it up. People mislead themselves, they go off on tangents, they lose their thread. Use this to distinguish them, certainly but do it sparingly. Remember the benefit of dialogue in a narrative is to move the scene forward at pace, to help give tension to a piece, to introduce emotion.

TRICK SIX

I try and never resort to stereotypes unless for comic effect. I am very careful not to use dialogue to delineate race, or ethnicity, or religion or even sex and certainly I never use it to show low IQ or poor education. In my first book, the gardener Cyril has a thick Hampshire accent; I’ve written his few speeches phonetically, for comic effect but through the editing process I reduced the amount dramatically. I cannot emphasise enough – less is more.

TRICK SEVEN

Dialogue should always be read out loud. Since it represents actual speech, hearing it can reveal the dead sections or the places that feel unnatural. This goes for all your work but for me it is especially true of dialogue.

dead flies kDP 20 10His first book, Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle can be found here:

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

91nG5Rw-fiL._UX250_Geoff Le Pard’s Author Bio 

I have been writing creatively since 2006 when at a summer school with my family I wrote a short radio play. That led to a novel, some more courses, more novels, each better than the last until I took an MA at Sheffield Hallam, realised you needed to edit, edit and then edit some more; the result is my first published book in 2014. I once was a lawyer; I am now a writer. When I’m not writing and thinking about writing, I’m blogging (which is a sort of writing); I cook, I walk, I read (but not enough) and I walk some more. The dog approves of my career choices. My second novel will be published on 14th August 2015 and further novels are in the pipeline for later in 2015.

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48 comments

    1. Actually, this is a post written by Geoff himself… 😀 he is guest appearing on my blog in order to promote his book 😀 but thank you so much for hopping over, it is lovely to meet you and I am glad you read his post 😀

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  1. Great post, Geoff! Your advice seems to be very sensible and useful. You didn’t elaborate on the Aussie dialogue, but I’m pleased to see that you don’t do stereotypes. I often find the Aussie dialogue very atypical and grating, so your advice there is excellent.
    I’m not sure about your bio though – blogging, in my view anyway, is definitely writing!
    Thanks for hosting Geoff at your place Sacha – great to see him here!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Reblogged this on TanGental and commented:
    Sacha Black is a force of nature when you meet her. It’s the same in the blogosphere and here she’s allowed me space on her blog to prattle on about, well, prattle. Do go and pay a visit if you haven’t. Thank you Sacha for carving out a little space for me.

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    1. Yeah thats an interesting point about how it would be perceived. I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks Yvonne. It makes me think of my friends daughter – One friend is american the other english. The child who is almost 3 speaks one word one way to one parent and another way to the other!! shes bilingual in english!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Fantastic tips. I imagine #4 is tough. Yes to #7. Great trick. “Good” writing doesn’t always translate into good dialogue. Some literary fiction that takes itself too seriously can have “well-written” dialogue that is stuffy and unnatural. IMO.

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it now and I’m sure I’ll repeat it again — you slay dialog! That’s what pulls me in to your stories and brings your characters to life. I’ve now officially added “arse” to my own bucket of slang but I’m probably saying it wrong! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your tips! Sacha, thanks for having your valuable committee member on your blog!

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    1. You are too kind. You say arse as ‘R ssss’ – rhymes with pass and class, not mass or crass; though if you want to be very posh, what we called received Pronunciation or RP for short you’d say ‘Aww sss’ rhyming it with horse as in ‘My butler’s a complete awsss’

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  5. I think I write dialogue pretty well, but I plan to refer to these tips as I bring my novel out of mothballs in the next month and FINISH IT. Might you have any suggestions as to where to find basic explanations re setting up social media to complement a new author website/blog? I’m a little lost. Thanks for the useful info.
    Kemala Tribe
    Finalist, Southern Writers Magazine Best of Short Fiction 2015

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m sure Sacha will add her thoughts. I can only talk about a wordpress blog (if you go with weebly or one of the others there may be different rules but most bogs seem to allow this). When I set mine up there is an option to link to your Twitter account, facebook and all the other forms of social media (Pintrest etc) which enables all your blog posts to be immediately posted on those other platforms. You can set it to function automatically or manually with each post, if you want to add some specific tag. You can add to the side bar – a widget – a link to the same accounts showing visitors to your blog your latest twitter and facebook posts – I’m guessing you can do the same for the other platforms too. There’s another widget you can attach that links to your author facebook page – if you have one set up – so a visitor to your bog can directly ‘like’ the page and be part of you FB author community. WordPress takes you through this when you set up. It’s a somewhat laborious process when you do it but worth persevering. I hope this answers you. Sacha writes great stuff and is always saying she bookmarks good links so may have some people to link to that may help with useful posts on this too.

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