I studied playwriting, and I recommend it to every author. Writing a play frees the author from trying to find a way to attribute who say what, because it’s automatically part of a play’s structure. It allows the author to convey a lot in speech. In fiction, the use of “he said, she said,” is recommended sparingly. It’s more common to show speech and then action by that same character.
One way to study dialogue is to sit in a place where people are milling about and talking. Listen. Sit in bus terminals. If you’re traveling, listen in airports. Two of my favorites are to listen to people talking in supermarkets or small restaurants.
In my book Vampire Princess of New York, there is a lot of action, thinking, and gestures between dialogue.
Here is a sample.
For the second night in a row, Noblesse slept in the arms of Donovan Dupre.
Inside her dream, she screamed.
“Noble, wake up. Noble, you’re having a nightmare again.” He gently shook her.
Noblesse blinked and stared at him, confused for several moments. “Donovan,” she said half-in surprise, then hugged him for all she was worth.
“What happened, Sha? Last night you wouldn’t tell me, but tonight, please, you must.”
Biting her lower lip, she huffed. It was a habit she had tried to stop, because it revealed her feelings too well. Donovan, with that slight Cajun accent rolling off his tongue, made her feel safe and the floodgates opened.
“It’s always the same. I see and hear everything so loud, every word and sound as I stood with them and screamed. It was July 17, 1789 all over again. I was with the patriots waiting outside the Bastille. They refused to release their prisoners, and we stormed the prison with all we had. Gun and cannon fire struck us. Hundreds of tiny stars of light hit me and burned. I fell.
“At that very moment, Max walked through the mob to carry me away. He said he walked a distance to find a house both empty and far enough not to be fired upon. My heart could barely beat. I remember him saying, ‘I don’t want to hurt you. I want to give you another chance, my brave one, my noble one.’ The sky must have turned black. I couldn’t breathe. His fangs sank into my neck, but death was already there to claim me. I did not understand him but asked God for forgiveness. I died.”
Donovan frowned. “I remember you telling me this story before. Why is it suddenly so terrifying?”
“I saw something I’ve never seen before. When Max was carrying me, when life was swimming around me, we passed a doorway where a man concealed himself in a black cape.”
“Who was it?”
“I don’t know. His face was covered. I don’t remember seeing him there. Could this be a restored memory?”
“Sha, I don’t know.” He breathed into her ear.
Noble hugged him but couldn’t stop trembling.
“It’s okay.” He held her tightly against him and rubbed her back. His calm melted into her, and the fear subsided.
Here’s the blurb for the book.
Noblesse is the daughter of the Vampire King of New York Maximillion Vander Meer. In the over two hundred years, she’s been a vampire, Noblesse has never found a true love or discovered what happened to her mother who disappeared just prior to the French Revolution.
Noblesse has to choose between two men. Both profess their love. Both are keeping a secret from her. One wants to destroy her, and one wants to love her forever. But which one?
It’s always good to test your dialogue by reading it aloud to make sure it sounds natural.
Vampire Princess of New York is available in Amazon Kindle at https://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Princess-York-Arnhem-Knights-ebook/dp/B01LWXYX1G and Amazon Print at https://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Princess-Susan-Hanniford-Crowley/dp/1682913260/
It’s also in print and can be ordered online at Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/vampire-princess-of-new-york-susan-hanniford-crowley/1125966996
(An interesting thing about Amazon is that if you click on a book, you will see the author’s name in small print. Click on the name and it will bring you to the author’s page which lists all the books and their formats that are available.)
If you have missed the other lessons in “How to Write a Fiction Novel,” here they are:
Happy Writing. Next week we will talk about the “Settings.” If you have any questions or comments, feel free to write them in the comments box.
Susan Hanniford Crowley, Amazon Kindle Bestselling Author of Vampire Romance
Where love burns eternal and whispers in the dark!
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