In a short story, our words are limited, so we must craft our prose to convey a sense of naturalness. Scenes have an arc of rising and ebbing action, so let’s consider how conversation fits into the arc of the scene.
J.R.R. Tolkien said that dialogue must have a premise or premises and move toward a conclusion of some sort. If nothing comes of it, the conversation is a waste of the reader’s time.
What do we want to accomplish in this scene? Ask yourself three questions.
- Who needs to know what?
- Why must they know it?
- How many words do you intend to devote to it?
My rule of thumb is, keep the conversations short and intersperse them with scenes of actions that advance the plot.
AuthorJames Scott Bellsays dialogue has five functions:
- To reveal story information
- To reveal character
- To set the tone
- To set…
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