Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Pulling Apart The Dialog

wp-1459952198219.jpgThis is my monthly post as part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, a great group of supportive writers, helping one another through our writing ups-and-downs.

There is also a great Facebook Community for more daily connection!  More posts from the group are tagged on Twitter at #IWSG, and be sure to check out the Twitter account and the new Instagram as well!


As I mentioned in my recent Weekend Coffee Share – I decided to go ahead and attempt Camp NaNo this month. It’s likely I’ll be chronicling my attempts on twitter (#CabinInTheWords, @Nerissarain). So, be sure to join me if you wanna see just how I manage to juggle editing a chapter that’s been giving me trouble for a few months alongside recovering from two surgeries….

Part of the challenge of this chapter is that it’s a lot of dialog. That, itself, isn’t the issue, it’s that I have characters sharing information with one another, but only determining if it is safe to share that information after they’ve shared it. That doesn’t work.

For those who RP, it’s kind of like when you have a bunch of player-characters walk into a tavern and instantly accept the information the NPC bartender gives them as fact. It just doesn’t quite work, not for people used to approaching every situation with caution, so I need to re-work it some.

I think what I’m going to end up doing is pulling the conversation apart and approaching it like dialog in a play. What is being said (and what is being conveyed that isn’t being said through expression or body language) is pretty important for the story, so I want to make sure those points get across. So what I think I’m going to do is dig out my big tri-fold cardboard presentation folder (you know, the kind that they use for school science presentations) and sticky notes. Each line of dialog will get it’s own note (color coded by character), key points or messages will get a sticky of a different color, and it will all get set out on the board, moved around, added to, and subtracted from, until I get the right flow.

Basically I’m altering the way I tend to organize academic papers to work for my fictional writing — I hope it’ll work!

Has anyone else had success in restructuring dialog? What tricks have worked for you?

4 thoughts on “Insecure Writer’s Support Group: Pulling Apart The Dialog

  1. I go through each conversation pretending to be only one character and speak from their heart, suspicion and tension at the ready. Let them behave badly and be blunt–even offensive if necessary. Then go through from another character and do the same thing. Rotate through until you’re happy with the tension and difference in voice.

    Anna from elements of emaginette


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