FAQ 9nov12

November 9th, 2012 | FAQ

[FAQs passim]

How does do you write dialogue so well? I’ve always heard other writers say that all it comes down to is listening to how people talk and mimicking that in your writing, but most of time I feel like what I have my characters say either falls flat or isn’t going to be interesting/witty/funny/what have you.

afriendtosell

 

I’m ignoring the first bit, because my dialogue isn’t great.

Dialogue for comics is a hugely different animal to dialogue in books or film, but here’s a couple of general things to think about:

1) You can’t force being funny.  Forced funny is never funny.

2) When you have a character talking, have two things you know about their lives in your head as you let them talk.  Two things that make them what they are.  What was their childhood like?  What was their first job?  Do they spend a lot of time alone?  Are they guarded around people?  Because dialogue is about moving information around and expressing character.  What you know about them affects the way they talk.  Take a book you like — or, hell, even one you don’t — and select a passage of dialogue, and see what you can learn about those characters from the way they speak.  (And, on top of that, see if the way they speak changes during the course of the book.)

2a) Once you know what they think is funny, or what’s funny *about* them, their dialogue will get funny.

I hope that helps a little bit.

 

Hiya. What kind of reading vs. writing ratio do you normally have? (Sometimes it seems like you cruise the internet for the amazing and absurd while your beard writes the books. Also, if that’s actually the case, what’s the best way to make a beard?)

ericdittloff

There is no ratio.  People tend to look for structure in my working life, and there isn’t a lot.  Reading is work.  Writing is work.  Communication is work.  Research is work.  I work from when I get up to when I go to bed.  I’m fairly stupid, and writing passable pages doesn’t come easily, so this is a 24/7 gig for me, just to be competent.  All this means that it’s really hard to separate the elements of the day out enough to be able to see a ratio.  It’s all The Job.


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  1. You can find Warren on Twitter: @warrenellis