Two nights ago I stayed up till 3:23 in the wee morning reading the new book, Slayers by CJ Hill (aka Janette Rallison). I've been a big fan of her writing for quite some time. Usually it sort of falls under the chick lit category, so I was curious to how well Janette would pull off a fast-paced adventure. Of course, I can't share that now. I gotta keep all of my five blog readers coming back. So I'll post my opinion on Slayers tomorrow. You won't want to miss that.
But I walked away feeling newly inspired to write better dialogue. Janette's dialogue is witty, funny, true to character personality, and never forced. It makes her characters and the story come to life.
Dialogue is often my own challenge, but I've seen a lot of awkward talk in published books. I'm always surprised when I find a little "maid and butler" in something I pull off the new releases at B&N.
In order to write better dialogue, I've developed a system.
1. I write the conversation as fast as I can as it pops in my head. I don't worry about punctuation, or blocking, or tags.
2. Then later, after a trip to Harts for my Diet Coke, I read through the scene out loud. (Ask Jessie Humphries. She said I'm a mumbler when I'm writing. It's mainly because I'm getting a feel for my dialogue). When I'm reading, I omit anything that sounds awkward or fake to the characters in the scene.
3. Last I add blocking. I have them move, or show expression.
4. Then I read it once more out loud, and adjust anything that feels awkward.
My process is somewhat layered, but it's helped me create better dialogue. Maybe one day I'll be a master like Janette.
What do you do to create witty and natural dialogue? I'm quite curious.