This will be the most self-indulgent thing you will ever see on this blog…I hope. I had a wonderful time out in Leesburg talking about dialogue as part of the Northern Virginia Writers First Friday—a great, attentive audience who also had some excellent ideas on resources for dialogue/character research. Excellent cookies for treats. Sufficient handouts. Well-organized event. Treated to a fun dinner beforehand with great company. What could be better?
How about seeing the event memorialized in verse?
Here is the poem Linda Budzinski wrote about my talk. I find it charming and hilarious, and since I can’t count on anyone else writing a poem about me anytime soon, I thought it was important to celebrate the occasion. And, she really did capture a lot of my tips about dialogue…so perhaps this is not entirely self-indulgent!
Talk the Talk
’Twas the first Friday in the month of June and at the Leesburg Town Hall
There gathered a crowd, men and women, young and old, budding wordsmiths all.
From far and near, they came to hear the author of A Year and a Day
Share her tips for their manuscripts – what you should and should not say.
“I hope each of you is well tonight,” Leslie smiled as she began the meeting.
“In dialogue, you must get to the point. Do not waste words on greetings.
As you all know, ‘dialogue’ means two or more characters talking.
But please do not use it for exposition,” she continued squawking.
“I also suggest that it is best if you use contractions,” she lectured.
“Otherwise, you will find that your speech sounds stilted,” she conjectured.
“Pick everyday words your characters would use. Make sure you keep it real.
Supercilious verbiage simply functions to detract from the appeal.”
“Well, let me see, what else can I tell you?” she inquired on that same night.
“Um, well, I guess I would just say, keep your dialogue clean and tight.
And in regard to dialogue tags: Simplest is best,” Leslie chanted.
“The character’s words should express the emotion, not the tag,” she ranted.
Now you can see how much I learned from Leslie’s presentation.
My manuscripts will truly sparkle wherever there is conversation.
But perhaps the most useful tip Leslie gave me on that night,
Was “Read all your dialogue aloud to make sure it sounds correct.”
About: Linda Budzinski has worked for eighteen years in non-profit communications and marketing. She is currently director of communications for an international trade association based in Sterling, Virginia. She serves as publicity chair for the Northern Virginia Writers and has successfully promoted that group and its activities throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
Linda is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. She graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania in Indiana, Pennsylvania, with a degree in journalism and a minor in communications media. Check out her fabulous new literary blog!