Make Sure the Dialog in Your Novel Makes Sense!

LandscapeWriters often create conversations between their characters that don’t make sense.  Usually this is because dialog tags and narration create so much space between what one character says and what another character responds with that it’s easy to forget what the conversation was about in the first place. This most often happens with questions.  For example:

“When do you want to eat?” Oscar asked, running his hands through his hair. He seemed distracted, probably wondering if I still wanted to eat at our usual restaurant after everything that had happened.

“Let’s eat at the burger joint,” I said.

At first read through, you may not notice that her response doesn’t answer Oscar’s question.  Sure she might have some motivation for not answering it, but in this conversation, that doesn’t seem to be the case.  And if that is the case, it’s the author’s responsibility to make that clear.

I see an issue like this one in just about every single novel I edit.  You can solve this problem easily by reading through your dialog without tags or narration. Read it like a normal, natural conversation (this is also useful for creating good flow).

“When do you want to eat?”

“Let’s eat at the burger joint.”

Now it’s easy to see that her response doesn’t make sense.

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