Writing tutor Sue Slocombe gave us a great deal of insight into the importance of dialogue. It should both enliven a narrative and help the reader to a greater knowledge of the characters. Wherever possible, the participants should have distinct voices, thus lessening the need for repeated use of ‘he said/she said’ etc.
Sue encouraged us all to eavesdrop on day to day conversations and observe how speech patterns differ from written English. Grammar rules are often disregarded, sentences incomplete and speakers leave the listener to read between the lines. Vocabulary and idiom vary greatly between the generations and between people from different regions and backgrounds.
As well as aiming for realistic content, it’s also important to be mindful of the rules of punctuation. That said, some of these are debatable nowadays and the house style of different publishers should be borne in mind.
Time permitted only a short writing exercise towards the end of the evening, but we’re regarding Sue’s talk as a curtain raiser to our whole day workshop on dialogue on 17th May. (See the Events Programme for more details.)