- Paperback: 136 pages
- Publisher: Compendium Press (July 14, 2014)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0910355142
- ISBN-13: 978-0910355148
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.3 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (313 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #19,451 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript
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Top Customer Reviews
"Really." He didn't sound convinced.
"Look, where other books on writing fiction drop the ball on dialogue, this guy not only picks it up, he spins it on one finger. . . and he tells us the same thing." She took a sip of beer and leaned into him. "We need to know our characters."
He grimaced. Took another slice of pizza and let the white, oily cheese pull across the plate. "Not that again."
"You know it's a juggling act. All the mincing - or not mincing - of words. Making it tense. Or alluding to something." She pulled a piece of crust apart. "Shutting a character up at the right time. It's all in there."
"Huh. Well, I'm not there yet. I'm still working on the plot."
"You'll get there."
"Can I borrow yours?"
She swallowed the beer. "Buy your own."
This book is different.
It's really a booklet or pamphlet, not a whole book, but it focuses specifically on writing dialogue and goes deeper than most general books. James Scott Bell provides specific techniques for adding tension to dialogue, for avoiding the boring chit-chat while still keeping the essentials of what you want your characters to say. There are several suggestions for exercises you can try to improve the way you write dialogue, some of which were new-to-me. With the number of writing books I've read, I'd assume they would be new to others as well.
It does include most of the standard advice for writing dialogue as well, but Bell was smart enough to put this at the back rather than the beginning where it might make the reader assume you were just getting tips you already knew.
Most of all, I like the tone of this book. It doesn't present the information as rules you must follow. Instead, it says these are things I've learned about dialogue, things you might want to incorporate in what you do when you write it, but if you want to do something different, that's okay, too. That's very refreshing to see in a writing craft book.
Bell sums up what makes dialogue dazzling and how to avoid writing dialogue that, while it may get the job done, is flat and boring. He also covers punctuation (a challenging concept for many beginning writers) and my favorite topic: Curving the language.
This one is a keeper and I will be referring to it often.
The rest of the book is about all aspects of dialogue and it is exactly like I most want a 'how to' book to be written. The text reads like an experienced trail lawyer zeroing in on a cross examination. Short, to the point, and powerful. A typical academic author could easily have made this book three times longer while saying less. Bell is one of the best live teachers I've ever had and he writes as well as he teaches. If you can go to one of James Scott Bell's seminars, do it.
If you seek help on writing better dialogue, it would be hard to find a better book.
As a reader who's bored to death whenever I encounter the dreaded "sitting-down-for-coffee" scene in stories, I literally burst out loud in laughter when I read the section titled, SET UP BARRIERS. Here, James provides concrete examples of what he calls the "sitting-down-for-coffee" scene, and shows you what to improve and do different in your own works. (Go ahead and admit it, you've written one of these scenes at one time or another, and James knows it.)
Whether a novice or seasoned writer, you'll definitely walk away feeling satisfied after reading this book, and certainly more aware of dialogue issues in your current WIP.