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How much dialogue?

Hi all. How much dialogue is too much? Or is there no such thing as too much? The story I am currently writing is going to involve a lot of dialogue between two friends, but I don't want to go 'overboard' with the amount of talking. I won't write paragraphs of dialogue but there will be a substantial amount. Thanks

Asked by: ELSIE BYRON

  1. ELSIE BYRON 1 week ago

    Thanks Adrian I'll jot the title down and look out for the novel it sounds interesting. I think my problem is I love writing dialogue but I'll have to reign myself in a little. Maybe I would be better placed writing scripts. Thanks again.

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  2. Adrian Sroka 1 week ago

    Elsie its hard to get the balance right between 'Show' and 'Tell'. Dialogue is an action - 'Show'.

    Narration can be 'Show' and 'Tell'. But the best example I have seen of 'Tell' is Jack London's short story - To Build A Fire. A powerful, skilfully written and vividly descriptive tale about a man's fight for survival in the Yukon in winter. There is not one word of dialogue. Worth a read to learn how, London brings the Yukon to life.

    I hope that helps.

    Good luck.

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  3. ELSIE BYRON 2 weeks ago

    Thank you Adrian and Victoria for your input. The dialogue will be needed but I will try and keep it to the minimum. Where I have included conversation in the story up to now it does work, but there will be lots of narrative also. I wasn't sure how far to go with the dialogue but I see the general drift is probably less is more. Thanks again.

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  4. Adrian Sroka 2 weeks ago

    I agree with Victoria's comments about speech tags/reporting clauses. But in one-to-one conversations it soon becomes obvious who is talking and you can lose the speech tags/reporting clauses.


    It's easier to only have scenes with two characters speaking. It is also advisable to restrict your characters to a maximum of 3 sentences of dialogue, one or two is better - unless it is necessary for character to make a speech or lengthy explanation.

    I hope that helps.

    Good luck.

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  5. Victoria Whithear 2 weeks ago

    Personally, I love dialogue, but readers generally find it hard to keep up with a conversation and speech tags after a while and need the narrative for a rest. Keeping up with who is saying what is taxing, so just bear that in mind and find ways to break it up. My latest is in first person so sometimes the conversations are broken up with her thoughts or flashbacks.

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