When Dialogue is Your Bane

I’m Learning to Write Dialogue!


Those following my Twitter feed, @scoutsemmes have probably noticed that I’m really into Jim Driver’s, How to Write Dialogue that SparklesAccording to my Kindle Fire, I’m 29% through the book. And ALREADY it’s more than worth the $3.99 I spent to buy it.

As I read Dialogue this morning and this afternoon, I bent over my kindle and found myself reading and rereading passages. I sat on a hard plastic chair waiting for my son to get out of his class and instead of focusing on how incredibly uncomfortable the chair was for my butt, I connected the dots. I was doing a lot wrong with my dialogue. I started ticking things off, things that he listed as “wrong” as I read the book. And I thought, my dialogue sucks.

I’m Learning to Format Dialogue

I wasn’t even formatting it correctly. I have a BA in English and I was not using the ellipse right. That’s just sad ya’ll. Did you know that you do not use an ellipse to signify interruption of the speaker? Man, I had no idea. Maybe I learned at one point. But does anyone else feel like they’ve forgotten more than half of what they learned in college? Or was I just too sleep deprived and brain-crammed with testing material to make what I really needed to remember fit?

Why I Don’t Like to Write Dialogue (but I love to read it.)

As I read, I realized more and more why I don’t particularly like writing dialogue in my novel. It’s because I really don’t know how to write dialogue. But, for most of us, a book that really draws you in has a lot of dialogue. It draws you into the story and into the character, right?

Exceptions to the “more dialogue is better” rule

For me, I usually like to read more dialogue in a book than paragraphs of dense text. There are a few exceptions. For instance, the very successful Dean Koontz does not really use a lot of white space in his books. In my opinion, he stays inside of his characters’ heads a lot and does a lot of description. But here’s the kicker. The descriptions are out of this world amazing. It makes me feel like I’m there. And he writes killer suspense. The Odd Thomas series comes to mind.

My Goal

I’m going to finish, Dialogue. I resolve not only to learn the correct way to format dialogue, but to use more of it in my book. White space is king.

I’m sure there are a lot of people with more experience than me with writing dialogue. How do you do it?

p.s. I also love his Jim Driver’s book, How to Write a Novel the Easy Way, Using the Pulp Fiction Method

Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written! – Be Observant


Welcome back to, Don’t Get it Right, Get it Written! By Stuart White

Stuart White

Stuart White

 More on Stuart HERE

Stuart continues his tips on how to decide…Where do I get story ideas for my novel?


Best-selling author Ken Follett wrote a thriller called The Key to Rebecca, about a WW2 German spy who came into Cairo from the desert on a camel, befriended a belly-dancer who then seduced a British officer on a Nile houseboat to get his secret code-books. The German spy used as his code cipher passages from the Daphne du Maurier book, Rebecca. I read Follett’s book and thought it was brilliant but totally utterly implausible. Spies coming in from the desert? Belly dancers? Nile houseboats and Daphne du Maurier novels? Still, great tale.

 Then I read Bodyguard of Lies and found that the whole thing was true from camels to belly dancers to Rebecca. Truth, again, was stranger than fiction.


One day I was reading one of those newspaper columns that are full of esoteric information about obscure subjects. Someone had asked if there’d ever been a black airman in World War One. I’m a bit of a world wars aficionado and my belief was – no there wasn’t. I was wrong. Someone wrote in and said, “Yes, his name was Eugene Jacques Bullard from Georgia and he flew for the French Lafayette Escadrille in World War One. He eventually became a night club owner and millionaire in Paris.”

 Excited – I did research. It was true. So with the encouragement of a Hollywood producer who had already optioned one of my screenplays, I wrote a script called Black Jacques about the man who became the world’s first black fighter pilot, a good twenty-five years before the Tuskegee airmen.

 That script was optioned and at one point I sat down with Richard Attenborough, director of Gandhi, who wanted to direct my script!

One novel, one script; two ideas, just from READING!!!


There is an endless, and I mean endless source of story ideas out there. All you have to do is look, listen, read, observe. Carry a small pad with you and write down ideas.

Come back Monday next week and Stuart will continue his series on how to get inspired by history. SIGN UP for the blog newsletter so you don’g miss a single post!

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