Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Speak Easy with Guest Blogger: Jean Murray

Welcome author Jean Murray to the Book Boost!

She's here to chat about the Importance of Dialogue in your Writing and here's what she had to say...

The old adage: “It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it.” And I would add— “what you don’t say.”

As everyone knows dialogue is such an important part of the story. It conveys information to the reader, quickens the pacing of the story, and opens the character’s personality. I want to focus on how dialogue can expand the character and really get the reader into their head.

How many times have we had conversations when we think one thing but say something else?

This applies very well in our writing. Our characters are complex and flawed. We don’t like revealing our weaknesses nor should they, but they can think it. It is important to weave some of this into your dialogue writing. Too much will slow down the pace, but just the right amount will open a window to the character’s psyche and adds depth to the dialogue.

This will only make sense if I use examples. I pulled some dialogue from my novel, Soul Reborn, to show you how this works. It provides back story, advances the plot, and provides the emotional state of Lilly and what she is thinking but not speaking— the need to keep her secret & guilt of not telling him.

“Beautiful, isn’t it?” When he didn’t answer, she continued. “My father use to take us on his digs. Even after a hard day at work, he would always make time for me and my sisters at night. He would teach us the constellations and then quiz us later.” The fresh pain silenced her for several moments. “I pray for the day that my sisters and I can lay and look up at the stars again.”

“Where is your father?”

Lilly bit the inside of her cheek. She needed to choose her words carefully. “He’s dead.” A minor truth. Her father died five years ago, kind of. “It’s just Kit, Kendra and I.”

Asar leaned back on his elbow and rolled onto his side next to her. Lilly couldn’t meet his gaze, afraid he’d see the truth. There were so many things she needed to tell him, but if she told him too much, he would know. That she was responsible for the goddess and the revens. For his suffering. Guilt twisted her gut. He would never forgive her—of that she was certain.

Prior to this scene the pacing was very active and fast. This scene dialog gives the reader a breather, and allows them to catch up and get to know the characters better before you spin them back up. In the end, it’s finding the right balance between dialogue and narrative that stays true to the characters and the scene. Don’t have your characters spill their guts, unless they are at the confessional. The story would be over if Lilly spoke everything that she was thinking. The conflict would be lost.

I’m sure folks have better examples “of what you don’t say” in their dialogue scenes. Or their own pearls of wisdom on dialogue use. Please share!

A Note from the Book Boost: Jean, this is a great example and I really like the excerpt from your book. Peaks my interest! I'm one of those writers who uses a lot of internal dialogue. I'm a huge fan of that. I tend to express my character's frustrations that way most often. Nice post. Please tell us more about your book.



Asar, the Egyptian God of the Underworld, has been tortured and left soulless by a malevolent goddess, relegating him to consume the very thing he was commissioned to protect. Human souls. Now an empty shell of hatred, Asar vows to kill the goddess and anyone involved in her release, but fate crosses his path with a beautiful blonde huntress who has a soul too sweet to ignore.


Lilly, fearless commander of the Nehebkau huntresses, is the only thing standing in the way of the goddess' undead army unleashing hell on earth. But Lilly has a secret—one she is willing to sell her soul to keep. If the Underworld god discovers her role in the dig that released the goddess, she will lose everything, including his heart.

Want More Jean?

Jean Murray was born and raised in a small town on the east coast. In her pursuit of a nursing degree, she aspired to see the world and joined the Navy. One of the benefits of her membership in the Armed Forces, she has had the opportunity to travel and live in different parts of the world and the United States. Her travels abroad have given her the opportunity to experience different cultures. It inspired her to delve into Ancient Egyptian myths and legends for her debut novel, Soul Reborn, book 1 in the Key to the Cursed series from Crescent Moon Press, now available.

Visit her website here: www.jean-murray.com

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Anonymous said...

Frustration is a great example. Another one of my favorites using unspoken dialogue is the character's suspicion of another.

Traci Bell said...

Good post, Jean.