How Much Dialogue Is Too Much Dialogue?

Asked by: Wayne Fields

While there is no hard and fast rule here, a general rule of thumb is (and this can vary by genre and story): anything more than six exchanges of dialogue in a row without any break risks losing the reader. The longer the dialogue, the faster it will likely overwhelm them.

What is too much dialogue?

Add exposition or action, or cut dialogue. ~ Characters talk too much about the past at the expense of current action and events. If your characters spend their time going over back story or telling one another what they already know (you know, Bob), then you’ve probably got too much dialogue.

Is it bad to have too much dialogue in a story?

The principal purpose of any dialogue scene should be to move your story forward. But if you give too much information in one scene (known affectionately as an information dump), you’ll confuse and overwhelm the reader. Not only that, information dumps also disrupt the pacing of your story.

What percentage of my novel should be dialogue?

Some non-genre novels have higher proportions: The Great Gatsby has 51.32%; Martin Eden has 50.58%.
Proportion of dialogue in novels.

Novel The secret adversary
Date 1922
Total chars 425692
Quote chars 228143
Percent 53.59%

What are the 7 rules of dialogue?

Rewriting the 7 Rules of Dialogue

  • “Dialogue should stay on topic.” …
  • “Use dialogue as you would actual speech.” …
  • “Opt for the speaker attribution said over all others.” …
  • “Avoid long speeches.” …
  • “Be grammatically correct. …
  • “Show what the characters are doing while they’re talking.” …
  • “Keep characters’ speech consistent.”

How do you cut down dialogue?

Mini Lesson: Punctuating Interrupted Dialogue

  1. Use a speech verb with a modifier. …
  2. Use an em dash inside the quotation marks to cut off the character mid-dialogue, usually with either (A) another character speaking or (B) an external action.

Should short stories have a lot of dialogue?

You should rarely ignore a rule just as a gimmick. In this case, while it is common to have dialog in a story, there is no rule that you must. If the story works better without dialog, there’s no reason to cram dialog into it just to conform to some idea of what “most stories” look like.

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How do you not write Cringey dialogue?

Cheesy dialogue is one-hundred-percent avoidable. Get in the habit of writing for pace. Include fragments. Read your dialogue out loud.
5 Tips for Cheeseless Dialogue

  1. Name Calling. How many times do we actually say someone’s name in a conversation? …
  2. Improper Punctuation. …
  3. Speaking of Tags. …
  4. Who Said What?

How do you make dialogue not boring?

Top Tips for Better Dialogue

  1. Keep it brief. Dialogue shouldn’t go over for pages and pages. …
  2. Avoid small talk. Oh, this one is music to my introvert ears. …
  3. Don’t info dump. …
  4. Give your characters a unique way of speaking. …
  5. Be consistent. …
  6. Create suspense. …
  7. Honor the relationship. …
  8. Show, don’t tell.

How do you write snappy dialogue?

To practice writing snappy dialogue, write a short segment where two characters are having a conversation. It can be a variety of scenarios—a discussion, an argument, a love confession, an interrogation, etc. First, write the conversation however you wish and figure out what it is the characters are talking about.

What are the characteristics of a good dialogue?

Good dialogue…

  • Reveals character and plot in every line. This is rule #1. …
  • Doesn’t rely on itself as a crutch. …
  • Distinguishes each character. …
  • Isn’t redundant. …
  • Is appropriate to tone, setting, and time period. …
  • Doesn’t try to be real conversation. …
  • Avoids hedges and fences. …
  • Minimizes direct exposition.

What are the features of a good dialogue?

Four key qualities of good dialogue are that it: 1) keeps the story or novel going; 2) reveals the characters; 3) is believable; 4) interests the readers. The first and best source of the dialogue you write is your own speech. You’ve been practicing dialogue all your life.

What is effective dialogue?

Effective dialogue requires that all the participants have equal standing, that they listen with respect and empathy, and that ideas and assumptions explored openly and without judgment. Effective dialogue typically follows some basic ground rules: The focus is on common interests, not divisive ones.

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What are the 3 characteristic of genuine dialogue?

People speak openly, and listen respectfully and attentively. Derogatory attributions, attacks and defensiveness have no role in dialogue. Participants do not make assumptions about the motives or character of others. Questions are sincere, and driven by curiosity.

What should be avoided in dialogue writing?

10 Dialogue Errors Writers Should Avoid

  • Stilted exchanges – Your dialogue may not sound natural. …
  • Similar voices – Make sure that each character has a distinct voice. …
  • Small talk – This ‘filler’ dialogue does not advance the plot or our understanding of the characters.

How much dialog is too much in a novel?

You’ll often find a lot of small talk fits into this category and can easily be trimmed out. While there is no hard and fast rule here, a general rule of thumb is (and this can vary by genre and story): anything more than six exchanges of dialogue in a row without any break risks losing the reader.

Can novels be dialogue heavy?

If you’re sure that’s not what’s going on, then there’s nothing wrong with a novel being dialogue heavy. Famous examples have already been named. Character driven novels with lots of verbal interaction between characters sound good to me.

What are some common mistakes in writing dialogue?

6 Mistakes in Writing Dialogue

  • Mistake #1: Dialogue that doesn’t sound natural. …
  • Mistake #2: Dialogue that sounds TOO natural. …
  • Mistake #3: Formatting problems. …
  • Mistake #4: Summarizing when you should use dialogue. …
  • Mistake #5: Using dialogue when you should summarize. …
  • Mistake #6: Characters who all speak alike.

How do you write a long dialogue?

Here are the main rules for writing dialogue:

  1. Each speaker gets a new paragraph. …
  2. Each paragraph is indented. …
  3. Punctuation for what’s said goes inside the quotation marks. …
  4. Long speeches with several paragraphs don’t have end quotations. …
  5. Use single quotes if the person speaking is quoting someone else.
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How do you break up dialogue in a novel?

Sometimes, writers choose to interrupt a speaker’s line with a dialogue tag before allowing them to continue. If the dialogue tag comes between sentences, cap it off with a period. After the tag, resume the quote with the next sentence (beginning with a capital letter). “I’m not opposed to change,” said Colin.

How do you split a long dialogue?

How to Format Dialogue in a Story

  1. Use Quotation Marks to Indicate Spoken Word. …
  2. Dialogue Tags Stay Outside the Quotation Marks. …
  3. Use a Separate Sentence for Actions That Happen Before or After the Dialogue. …
  4. Use Single Quotes When Quoting Something Within the Dialogue. …
  5. Use a New Paragraph to Indicate a New Speaker.

How do you break up long passages of dialogue?

When you have very long sides of dialogue, we recommend that you break up the dialogue with one of the following:

  1. a parethetical direction, e.g. (pause) or (he looks away)
  2. a line of action / scene description.
  3. split the dialogue into multiple pieces.

Do you indent dialogue?

Dialogue should be enclosed within quotation marks. Each new line of dialogue is indented, and a new paragraph should be started every time a new person is speaking. It should be concise. Long, wordy passages of dialogue might seem like a good way to get information across, but they can be tedious for the reader.

Can dialogue be in the middle of a paragraph?

Dialogue and narration can be placed into the same paragraph. If the narration refers to a single character or is in the point of view of only one character, simply add the dialogue. Dialogue can go at the beginning, the middle, or the end of the paragraph and the narration.

How long is a short story?

However, the word “short” can mean different things, but generally speaking, a short story can be anywhere from 1,000–15,000 words, but most publications only publish short stories between 3000–5,000 words. Anything less than 1000 words is categorized either as a flash fiction or a micro-fiction.