Monday, April 4, 2011

Dialogue Mechanics - part four

Before going on, let's address Elisabeth, Danielle and Julie's questions about dialect. In fantasy, we can easily go over the top with dialogue, so we have to be careful. My advice for dialect/dialogue is the same as for adverbs and adjectives: consider them cayenne pepper and use sparingly.

How can you do this? Well, you'll have to experiment. Sometimes, just a word or phrase will do. Sometimes, like Elisabeth, your characters do not use contractions. Yes, it's formal sounding. That's okay if you want them to sound formal. Unicorns are an ancient race, yes? Then you want them to sound formal and different - strange and mystical. The reader will stay with you if the story is engaging and the dialogue natural to the characters. In high fantasy, characters tend to sound more formal anyway.

Check and see how other authors have handled it. I've read some fantasy where everyone sounds the same, but they have different habits and beliefs. Different tempers and reactions. The thing is to give your characters *something* to differenciate them. Would the reader know who is talking without a dialog tag or beat?

If you want some help, give us a conversation between your different characters and we'll talk about it.


  1. Ooh, that does make sense when you put it that way. I guess that I thought my unicorns just sounded too STRANGE--what can I say? I'm not a unicorn! I'll try to work on that. Thanks!

  2. Good thoughts - I like your idea for using personalized speech for unicorns :) . One fantasy-ish author who uses VERY different speech patters is Bryan Jacques in his Redwall series. But for my speed-loving eye, some of the accents get a little over the top!