Thursday, November 6, 2014

Conference Report: Suzanne Jefferies' talk on Writing Dialogue

Thank you to Kathy Bosman and Carlyle Labuschagne for their report backs on Suzanne's talk on Writing Dialogue at #ROSACon2014.

Report by Kathy Bosman

I attended Suzanne Jefferies’ talk on 8 Simple Rules for Writing Dialogue. My interest was piqued when she shared that she had experience writing screenplays. In screenwriting, you have to learn to show and not tell and you learn to use dialogue to move the story forward. I know I sometimes struggle with dialogue, especially for the hero, so I wanted to learn more about it. Suzanne didn’t disappoint. I loved that she went into the differences between how men and women talk. She gave some very useful tips and advice which I would like to refer to from time to time. She used real-life examples of dialogue in books and movies to show her point. Dialogue is definitely vital for a good book and if we can get it right, we’ll hook the readers. Thank you so much to Suzanne who showed us how with some enlightening and understandable advice.

For more on Kathy and her books, visit

Carlyle Labuscahgne’s take on Spectacular Dialog tips by Suzanne Jefferies

Wow, first I have to say, I always struggle with the confidence of delivering good, believable dialog. Are there simple rules to follow or a secret formula to nail it? Yes there is…. *happy dance*

When sitting in on this wonderful topic presented by Suzanne Jefferies, I not only learned that I was on the right track I walked away with knowledge and the confidence to add improve on my writing skills. I will now share the tips I took to heart.

Dialog creates the central shape of the story, bringing us back to the fundamental rule of Show don’t tell.

Think about how conversations happen in real life
~ We cut each other off.
~ Finish each other’s sentences.
~ People don’t always say what they mean.
~ And we all make our own minds up of what was rely implied.

Dialog creates Tension, and as a romance writer it is important to create that tension right up front – readers love that!
Within dialog we find content. An interesting and fun way to bring location, age, character physical traits would be during a conversation.
Pay attention to how men and woman speak to each other, men do not talk about feelings. Men Ask questions during dialog to gain information, and usually let each other talk before answering.
Woman usually speak over each other, or say the same things at the same time, and are eager to have a conversation.

What we say isn’t always what we mean. (Sarcasm)
Dialog sets the scene and setting.
When a character often feels save he will reveal more information about self, or background.

Using dialog to cut out the shape of your character.
Nothing ages writing more than using slang, but that said, using slang can add to character for instant his/her age.
Think about accents, pronunciations this will show the reader where the character is from. Using nonstandard grammar, or specific words.
The general rule with this should always stand that if it is not familiar to you, then stay away from using a certain dialect.

Talking Heads
To gain deep Point of view, don’t always he said she said, she retorted, he answered – yeah they bantered we get it!

Enter dialog, add action, and follow up with thought.

“I thought you said you were going to be late?” Susan shrieked upon finding that her mom had gotten home before her. She closed the door in Ivan’s face thinking to herself how she would explain to her mother why Ivan was at their doorstep this time of night, and why she had been out in the first place.
Mom cleared her throat, “Did I interrupt something Susan?” Although her words were polite, her tone was anything but, she was going to be grounded for sure.
“Umm, “Susan struggled for the right words.


Dialog is a great tool to add information to your story.

More about Carlyle and her books:

Next up: Check back here tomorrow for the report back on Tristan Banha's talk on Social Media & Branding.

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