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In some of my writing, nearly every paragraph is pure dialogue, with very little exposition or description. On one hand, I feel like it flows smoothly, with little distraction, but on the other, I'm concerned that I'm failing to exploit my medium (the written word) properly. OTOOH, most of the dialogue does advance the story in one way or another.

Is an excess of dialogue, by itself, necessarily a bad thing?

  • Just in my personal opinion, if the dialogue advances the story, or provides greater characterization, then it's worthwhile. – Liesmith Nov 6 '14 at 22:19
  • Can you provide an example? – Neil Fein Nov 6 '14 at 22:44
  • I want more answers to this question. I have the same God damn problem. One of my friends read the ms and said that I write too many dialogues. Said I was obsessed with it. Which, imho, I am. I love them. Maybe someone can point me to a discussion thread? – Amin Mohamed Ajani Nov 11 '14 at 1:12
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Without an example it's hard to tell, but if you feel like you are writing too much dialogue in proportion to the rest, then perhaps your gut is telling you to dial it down a little. As always, if you read a lot of well written stories, you'll have a good idea of where your story lies in terms of style.

Then again, if you're writing a scene like one of the dialogue scenes in Tarantino's Inglorious Basterds or similar, then fire away. I suspect, however, that he would be describing the intimate details of the tension within the dialogue as well, as there are many details besides speech that make those scenes so exciting to watch.

1

Well, you are the author so it is really your call. If you feel that there is too much dialogue, then odds are that there is. Perhaps there needs to be more of a narrative voice to pull it all together and then you can eliminate some of the dialogue that is used to advance the plot.

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I am no expert, but I believe that dialogue should be kept to a bare minimum. You are not writing an audio book. Your characters may want to yap away, but you need to restrain them. Less is more.

Watch a movie; cut the sound, if it is any good you will understand most of it. Yes, we write words, but they are a medium to create a sensory illusion.

This “special-effect” need to evocate and stimulate all the senses, with maybe a bit more of the visual.

Still, for instance smells are important too and they certainly can not be imagined through dialogue. However, if they can, do transform that incessant chatter with descriptions.

I am sure that with some efforts you could get rid of 80% of your dialogue.

  • 1
    Since when is it advisable to keep dialogue to a "bare minimum". Dialogue is a major component of story writing. – Nick Bedford Nov 7 '14 at 20:55
  • Reed's on weed. – Amin Mohamed Ajani Nov 11 '14 at 1:03
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Drama or novel is full of dialogs. It should not be described by too many dialogs if your earnesr thinking is not like that.

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