About Me

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A writer by predilection, an aunt by blessing and a friend by choice, Shelley has spent many years journaling before sitting down to draft her first novel. She has a B.A. in English discourse and is currently working on her third romantic-suspense, the title of which will be announced soon pending publication. Shelley is a member of the Romance Writers of America as well as her RWA state chapter of the Maryland Romance Writers.
"I love story-telling. It's a way to live an experience through the eyes of a character." - Shelley N. Greene

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Hi and welcome back!

I knew at some point in this blog fest that I would come across a topic that I admittedly don’t know a lot about.

So far the information I’ve shared has been based on subjects I’ve studied or have had personal experience with while writing.  Dialogue is usually easy for me to craft, it’s just an area where I’m weak rule-wise; so I’d love to hear what tips there are out there to help write it well.

I’ve been told by several of my editors that my characters dialogue reads naturally.  That the exchange is fluid and that the sentences aren’t so English grammar correct to be unrealistic.

I'm sure that's important because dialogue is powerful. It’s the interaction of your story, and just like in real life, what a character says and what they think varies on who they’re speaking to.  That illustrates a lot.

The way your hero speaks to their mother versus their best friend depicts character traits, which fleshes them out and reveals their motives.  

Subtext comes alive in good dialogue, providing the hidden meaning.

You can deepen the drama; lighten the atmosphere or sinuously springboard into your story with a good line of dialogue.

 So, going off the top my head, some good tips for dialogue would be:

Keep it true your character.  Go back to your cheat sheet and let their tone and background show through how they speak as well as what they say.

*  Work around the action. I’ve read that the best dialogue exchange occurs when the speakers are not stationary (i.e. avoid the sitting in a car and at a table/over lunch conversations.)

Use vernacular about avoid stereotypes.  I confess I like modern euphemisms and good puns.  I’ve never asked a copy-editor whether or not they keep Urban Dictionary on hand, but I imagine they have a few stories that require it as a reference guide.  I think it’s cool to create a great visual using new construction words, you just want to be sure that it doesn’t slap what I call a “yeah, man” label on your character.

Be loose with it.  Have fun.  Like all writing your brain will go into gridlock if you try to force it. 

Personally I fear the “talking heads” syndrome, where the verbal exchange is bland and wasting page space.  When I start to slip into that void the only cure is for me to step back and spend time out in the world, to reacquaint myself with how people talk causally.

 And now I’ll ask – what tips do you have for good dialogue? Any favorite lines that make you laugh or cry?

Thanks for reading and please come back tomorrow for *drumrollllll*  E is for EDITING.

See you then!

-         SNG   :0)


  1. I like making my characters talk while food is involved. Maybe they're having dinner, or putting away groceries. Maybe that's some weird Freudian thing, but I think food and dialogue (for me, anyway) go hand-in-hand (or mouth?). :-D

  2. You know, I debated about putting that tip in. It's a famous Maass guideline and I can see why it works (an action situation framing the dialogue) but I've also read several strong scenes with dialogue delivered in an eating setting. And I remember that you like that. It's a good comfort concept, discussing things over food. It has a nurturing subtext to it. Sounds cozy to me. ;0)