Chris Roerden’s book, Don’t Murder Your Mystery, has a fabulous chapter on dialogue, and I’ve been picking it apart and sharing it with you, my three loyal blog readers, for the past several posts. This is the last post regarding information from her book.
Roerden says, “Rapid-fire dialogue that goes on for more than two pages might lose it’s punch.” By altering the pacing of long passages of dialogue, writers can ensure their readers won’t get tired too quickly. To reduce the pace of a fast-moving scene, use one of these methods (note: I didn’t include all of the methods Roerden did – pick up the book if you want to know them all):
1. Break up dialogue with exposition.
2. Make sentences and paragraphs longer.
3. Add description.
4. Change the setting. (For example: a couple talking on a porch swing in the moonlight vs. a couple shouting the identical words over the roar of city traffic.)
To increase the pace of a slow-moving scene, try these methods:
1. Eliminate words, sentences, and gestures that are non-essential and offer no conflict, characterization, or plot advancement.
2. Revise, striving for rapid-fire confrontation.
By alternating the pace of long passages of dialogue, you have the potential to increase tension and keep the reader turning pages.