Dialogue And Transparent Words

Discussion related to the topic Dialogue And Transparent Words

Forum : All About Writing : Dialogue And Transparent Words

Douglas
Posted at: Apr 7, 2008 at 5:32 AM 
Did you know that when you're reading, some words are transparent? What I mean by that is that you hardly even notice they're there.

Said is a transparent word when you're writing dialogue. It's an important word, but no one notices it. Replied and asked are other words which are relatively transparent.

A lot of beginning writers don't realize that these words are transparent, so they feel self conscious about using them over and over again. The result is that no one ever just says anything; they scream, whine, shout, mutter, opine, elaborate, or (if you're Paolini) they whisper secretively, shout loudly, elaborate convolutedly (okay, I made up that last one).

Since none of those words (or phrases) are transparent, they have the effect of jerking the reader out of the dialogue between each sentence, making for very clunky and disjointed reading.

Don't be afraid of transparent words - they are your friends. Use them with great regularity! Grab a book by your favorite author (unless your favorite is Paolini!) and scan through a page or two of dialogue, checking the frequency of dialogue words. You'll be surprised at how often the characters just said.

I just grabbed The Crystal City by Orson Scott Card and opened it at random to three pages of straight dialogue. Here are some stats:

SAID: 21
NO DIALOGUE WORD: 12
SHOUTED: 1
ASKED: 1

Josiah T.
Posted at: Apr 7, 2008 at 5:52 AM 
Quote
... or (if you're Paolini) they whisper secretively, shout loudly, elaborate convolutedly (okay, I made up that last one).

ROFL!!!

Mathax
Posted at: Sep 10, 2008 at 5:09 AM 
Ok, I just wrote a post with a lot of dialogue. Could you tell me how it is with the Transparent words? Labor Day

Douglas
Posted at: Sep 11, 2008 at 9:02 AM 
Yep, looks good. I noted that on the line "Engineering to bridge," you didn't state who was speaking, which is a good choice, since the line of dialogue tells you who is speaking. Here's another one...

“You do that. Riker out.” said Riker.

In this case, "said Riker" feels redundant - you know it's Riker already, because he just said it was Riker.

Of course, if it was someone masquerading as Riker, then you'd have to specify who is speaking:

“You do that. Riker out,” said Q.

Oh. I just noticed; instead of putting a period at the end of your dialogue, if you're going to follow it by "said Riker" or something like that, use a comma.

Boy
Posted at: Oct 29, 2009 at 11:58 PM 
(if you're Paolini) they whisper secretively, shout loudly, elaborate convolutedly (okay, I made up that last one).

That is so true! His books could be a lot shorter on that count!

Boy
Posted at: Oct 29, 2009 at 11:59 PM 
Quote
(if you're Paolini) they whisper secretively, shout loudly, elaborate convolutedly (okay, I made up that last one).

That is so true! His books could be a lot shorter on that count!

Boy
Posted at: Oct 30, 2009 at 12:00 AM 
.
~Edited by Boy, Oct 30, 2009 at 12:17 AM
Forum : All About Writing : Dialogue And Transparent Words

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