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Common mistakes of dialog are writing too much or writing not enough! When used correctly, memoir dialog is a dynamic tool for your memoir.

Dialog is dynamic.

Dialog takes the story out of the writer’s consciousness—if only briefly—and lets the reader access the character’s.

Your best rule of thumb: use dialog to show emotion and reveal character rather than to impart information. The dialog will convey to the reader the characters sophistication, emotional maturity, sensitivity and much more without your having to say so directly.

On the other hand, use the narrative to give information. While in every day conversation, we frequently give information, in writing information given in the dialog quickly becomes staid and seems to be the writer’s effort to convey background info rather than the characters sharing. This tends to get boring fast.

“How it was” is not enough.

It is sometimes difficult for a new writer to make this distinction. “But that’s how I learned of this,” the writer might retort, “in a conversation. Isn’t conversation dialog?”

Yes, but a memoir must interest the reader and short dialog focused on emotion is generally best with the narrative picking up exposition, explanation. It’s difficult to give much info in a short dialog. Give the pedigree of a character in the narrative and add a piece of dialog such as ” ‘I’m very proud of my family,’ my aunt Jenny said.” This provides us with her emotional position while the narrative offers the reasons for her emotion.

In conclusion

Memoir dialog is a dynamic tool for your writing. It allows the reader to “hear” the voice of your characters.

Memoir dialog is a strong “show and don’t tell” technique. Your readers do not have to depend on what you tell them but can listen to the character and come to a personal conclusions based on what the character has shared.

Read and study the articles below to understand dialog more clearly and to increase you ability to manipulate dialog to deepen the meaning of your story.

Remember: memoir dialog is a useful tool in your writing!

writing precise words

Sweetheart, Are You Using Precise Words for Your Memoir?

The clearer you are in your choice of precise words, the easier it will be for your reader to understand your writing. The reader will be able to respond to you as you wish the reader to respond—instead of looking around while you are pleading “sweetheart, sweetheart.”

dialog tags

Dialog Tags: the good, the bad and the sometimes intrusive.

We all know how important a precise and varied vocabulary is to our memoir writing. Words are our tools to make meaning. Most of the writers I have worked with want to develop the precise and varied vocabulary that can be so helpful in writing narrative. Unfortunately, they also believe that an extensive vocabulary is […]

better dialog

10 Tips to Write Better Dialog—Make it More Effective and Interesting

If dialog is an essential part of every memoir—and of course it is, then why not make it effective—make it say what needs to be said—and interesting—so that it also keeps the reader reading. Write better dialog. Dialog performs several functions that make your story appealing and meaningful. Every memoir ought to have some dialog […]

dialog in a memoir

Dialog in a memoir: “So what did you say?”

Dialog is important in a memoir because it allows us to “hear” the subject, but using dialog is also fraught with problems. It can throw your memoir off. Pitfalls of using dialogue in a memoir Essentially, most writers use dialog that is too long. A memoir, of course, is a remembered story. When the writer […]

interesting dialog

Writing Effective and Interesting Dialog

Dialog allows the reader to hear the voice of the character. It is an opportunity to use regionalisms and particularities of speech. Even to write in pauses if that was typical of the person. “Ain’t much wrong with it,” my grandfather would say…