Tag Archives: jen wylie

Talk, talk, talk, with Jen Wylie

I am usually a very sun shiny person, however since I’ve gone into super-editing-mode some things have started to drive me nuts. Today’s rant: Character names IN dialogue. Dialogue is one of the most important parts of a story. It needs to be done well and believably!

A crude example:

Sally walked into the kitchen. “Hi, mom.”
“Good morning, Sally!”
“Did you sleep well, mom?”
“You know, Sally, I actually did!”
Sally smiled. “That’s awesome, mom!”

A bit overdone, but are you getting the picture? Pay attention to the next time you have a conversation with anyone, in person or on the phone. Names and even endearments are RARELY used. When they are, it is often at the beginning of a conversation or sparsely within it. In real life names are also used to get a person’s attention, sometimes to single out one within a group. Names are also used in admonishment, such as, “Oh John, you so did not just say that!”

Writers often have a tendency to overuse names in dialogue, perhaps partly to indicate who is speaking to whom. However this is often unnecessary when a conversation is between only two characters. Within a scene with a number of people this can be better done using tags and simple writing; Sally turned to her mom, mom swatted dad on the shoulder, John glared over at dad, etc.

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Please pay attention in real life and make your dialogue as believable as possible, otherwise I’ll be forced to throw rainbows at you. 😛

Jen Wylie is the author of Jump, an Echelon Press Short Story with more work coming soon. Visit her website or her blog for more information.