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EDIT ME–Slashing Dialogue

quote mark

You’re looking at those words “SLASHING DIALOGUE” and giving me the evil eye. “But Em, my characters said that. I can’t cut it.”

Uh, yes, you can.

Achy Break Heart blared from his cell in his back pocket. He brought the phone to his ear. “Hello?”

“Hi Mark. How are you doing?”

“I’m fine. What are you doing?”

“Just hanging out by the river. Wanna come down and share the same tiresome dialogue? I can make a picnic.”


Yes, everyone answers the phone. Most of us say Hello, Hi, Yo, or Talk to me. But really look at those words. Are they absolutely necessary? What if your characters discuss something important, oh I don’t know, say…like something that might actually push the story forward? Let’s try again:

Achy Breaky Heart blared from his cell in his back pocket. He brought the phone to his ear. “Mandy, I know what you’re going to ask, and I won’t do it.”

“Why, Mark? Why won’t you join me for a picnic on the scenic river bank?”

“Because I’m no good for you. Stop calling me.”

“But you’re so smart and funny, and you look like that guy off Sons of Anarchy.”

“This is exactly why I don’t want to join you for a picnic, Mandy. You aren’t interested in anything besides a bad boy on a bike. No one really looks at me and sees me for what I am.”

Much better, yes? (and maybe a little like a bad soap opera) While writing dialogue ask yourself what your characters can reveal that pushes the story toward the end goal. Is a desire revealed? An emotional link conveyed? Imperative information presented?

Slash that dull dialogue. And remember…if it’s snappy, it makes a great Tweet for later promotion!

Thanks for reading.



One comment on “EDIT ME–Slashing Dialogue

  1. Good post, Em! I’ve noticed some authors try to make dialogue TOO real–they write it the way people really talk. But that’s boring. So much of our conversation is filler or comment about our mundane lives. But stories should not be about mundane things! .Dialogue needs to be BETTER THAN REAL while still sounding real. People often have their own agendas in conversations and dialogue should reflect that. Once I overheard a conversation between two people who were looking at a piece of furniture at Costco:
    Woman: How big is it?
    Man: It’s $400.
    That’s good dialogue!

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