Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Dig Out That Buried Dialogue

Buried or hidden dialogue, both terms mean the same thing, but what is that exactly? While buried dialogue isn’t a technical term nor is there any rule that says you can’t use it, editors often suggest you eliminate as much of it as possible. There are two basic reasons behind this.

1) Buried dialogue slows the pace.
2) Dialogue can lose its oomph when squished between two narratives.

Let’s look at some examples, so you can see what I mean.

Example 1:

With Buried Dialogue:

Toni opened the door. “What are you doing here?” She crossed her arms, determined to show him she meant business. “I told you to stay away.” Why was he there anyway? Didn’t he know what was good for him?

Without Buried Dialogue:

Toni opened the door.
“What are you doing here?” She crossed her arms, determined to show him she meant business. “I told you to stay away.”
Why was he there anyway? Didn’t he know what was good for him?

Example 2:

With Buried Dialogue:

Marnie wrapped a ringlet of her hair around her finger. Maybe she could convince him yet. “Surely, there must be something I could help you with.” She batted her eyelashes and puckered her lips. Swaying her hips, she circled around him. If there was one thing she knew about men, they couldn’t resist a good tease.

Without Buried Dialogue 1:

Marnie wrapped a ringlet of her hair around her finger. Maybe she could convince him yet. “Surely, there must be something I could help you with.”
She batted her eyelashes and puckered her lips. Swaying her hips, she circled around him. If there was one thing she knew about men, they couldn’t resist a good tease.


Without Buried Dialogue 2:

Marnie wrapped a ringlet of her hair around her finger. Maybe she could convince him yet.
“Surely, there must be something I could help you with.” She batted her eyelashes and puckered her lips. Swaying her hips, she circled around him. If there was one thing she knew about men, they couldn’t resist a good tease.


Notice the difference between the “with” and “without” buried dialogue examples. The dialogue is lost in the narration and doesn’t have the effect it could have on its own.

Come back next Monday for the unofficial rules in regards to buried dialogue.

Do you ever use buried dialogue?

Lynnette Labelle
www.labelleseditorialservices.com

5 comments:

  1. Yes, I admit I've used buried dialogue. I TRY not to, but sometimes it's difficult to arrange things properly. I agree that a passage is easier to read without it!

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  2. Writing has a lot of rules, just when I think I have gainmed understanding of one rule more come along... but choosing to be a writer wouldn't be worth it if I don'[t make the dedication to continue learning.

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  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  4. Great post made a error so I had to redo.

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