Hourly Writing Seminar: Talk to Me (notes)

The hourly writing seminars are always a good bet at D*Con, but this was the only one that I could afford to attend.  I’ve been to a lot more previously, but at $10 each, they can add up quickly.  Still worth every penny:

Please keep in mind that my notes are all over the place. I mostly just write down things that apply to my own writing or where I am in my particular journey, as it were.

This seminar was given by Aaron Alston.

-Dialogue can contribute to characterization, or mood and tone.
-Character Voice Hook- can establish unique quality in speaker’s voice so reader can recognize voice later even if character isn’t identified through attribution.  Only use for one or two characters, since if it’s overdone, it will make the dialogue seem fake and overacted.  -Also effective is using a catch phrase or other CVH, and then suddenly leaving it out where a reader would expect it.  Almost more powerful in its omission.  Hook can be a conceit, punctuation, catch phrase, etc.
-Unattributed dialogue is much cleaner, you can imply attribution by pace or hook.
-“Performer Voice”- Invoke a picture of character in your mind to automatically channel their voice.  Can be based on celebrities, family members, coworkers, etc.  (Vesta= Paula Deen)
-Adjusting character voices- In editing and rewriting passes.  Adjust meticulousness/sloppiness in speech.  (Also, variations in speech patterns.  Someone who’s usually terse gets long winded- seems important somehow.  Think Silent Bob.)
-Exaggeration and hyperbole- Might be good for Travis.  (12 word rule- Sentences of about 12 words are perfect for absorption, variations on that will drive home different moods, etc.)
-Re: Dialects-The reader should read so that the words disappear.  They should be lost in visualization, and dialect can ruin that unless it’s done very carefully.  Use very minimally, maybe just one word, and use it occasionally.  (Maybe pagan phrases like ‘Blessed Be’ or ‘This turn’.)
-Clavell-Shogun- has dialogue that is very cumbersome at the beginning, but gets easier as the book goes along.  It’s about a person becoming used to a culture, so it was done well and intentionally.
-Words can be used for world-building (i.e. A beast of burden on an alien planet called an utan or something similar), just don’t overwhelm the reader with difficult words that they have to remember the meanings of.
-Keep in mind who the speaker is talking to.  People talk differently to children vs. authority figures, etc.
-Evoke reader participation, particularly by omission.  For example, “You don’t want to go down there…”  But with no reason why.
-Humor in dialogue-Offering unexpected responses, breaking the ‘social contract’ by not following normal social dialogue rules, etc.

 

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