Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Separating Dialogue Blocks

I'm giving detail Beta feedback to a fellow writer, and we had a conversation about how much narrative you can include in a NPOVC's (non-point-of-view character) dialogue block.
The rule this deals with is of course, "Separate speakers into their own paragraphs."
Direction is an effective break in he said/she said, and as with any detail, helps the reader 'see' the setting.
The problem of course with direction, it can turn into narrative, which if it goes on too long can weaken the dialogue by separating and burying it.
Secondly, the narrative by its nature is in the POVC (point-of-view character's) head, unless you're writing omnisciently, and you don't even want to see me rant about omniscient narrative. (I'm a near-3rd person bigot.)
But if the dialogue block is a NPOVC—My recommendation is to err on the slim, when it comes to including any narrative in a dialogue block.
POINT one: Your dialogue should be your punch. Don't weaken it with embedded narrative.
POINT two: With the ubiquity of e-books…paragraphs look longer on your Kindle/Nook/tablet. It behooves all of us to use shorter paragraphs now, anyway.
A simplistic example:
"More power to you." He lifted his glass in salute.
"More power to you." He lifted his glass in salute, his mouth forming a sarcastic smirk.
Narrative in the POVC's head.
Not high literature…but it get's the point across. The speaker here is the NPOVC. But the narrative is in the POVC's head via narrative. I recommend allowing the "More power to you" to stand alone. It punches it.
R. Mac Wheeler
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  1. I've been tussling with this for a while. Hope I've got my head round it now. Many thanks.