On Writing Dialogue

Do we write what we hear, or what’s intended?
Is consistency in character necessary when we write dialogue?
Do we need to make that differentiation?

The answer to the above questions is “yes” … except when it’s “no”.

If you’re writing non-fiction, or any other “serious” genera, you will want to avoid any  slang at all; unless you are trying to record a person’s quote exactly as given.

If you’re writing fiction, however, writing different speech patters, slang, dialect, or accent can improve the flow, the look, and the need for constant repetition of phrases like: “he said”, “she remarked”, or “they retorted quickly”.

See the section, below, from Sinclair LewisBabbit, chapter IV, section IV; a conversation between George Babbit and Paul Riesling.


“… Wanta speak Mist’ Riesling, Mist’ Babbit Talking … ‘Lo, Paul?”

“S George speaking.”
“How’s old socks?”
“Fair to middlin’.How ‘re you?”
“Fine, Paulibus. Well, what do you know?”

“Oh, nothing much.”

“Where you been keepin’ yourself?”

“Oh, just stickin’ round. What’s up, Georgie?”

“How ’bout lil lunch ‘s noon?”
“Be all right with me, I guess. Club?”

“Yuh. Meet you there twelve-thirty.”
“A’ right. Twelve thirty. S’ long, Georgie.”

Note that Lewis used the dialogue, itself to indicate which of his character is speaking without repeated “He said, She said”. You may want to experiment with this style dialogue in your own writing.

Often, dialogue in writing reflects heavy use of slang and contractions. See below for an example, again from Lewis’ Babbit; chapter VI, section III; this time Mrs. Babbit to their son, Ted.

“Snoway talkcher father.”

This is an extreme example, but worth it if you can hear all the inflections. You would probably need to say it aloud to make it work.

In listening, I find myself “mis-hearing” statements which can be in two – or maybe more – ways, expressing totally different meanings. For example, we had a guest speaker at our church last evening. When talking about his son he told us he wanted to be “some kind of an engineer”. I, in my overly-critical manner, say his son wanted to be “some kinda Ninja near”. But that’s probably just me!

The disadvantage in writing what you hear is the danger of writing exactly what you hear, phonetically, is it may become totally unreadable: for example “Jeetyet” instead of “Did ja eat yet?” (This is usually used as an exercise in enunciation for actors, but my writing often reflects my other interests, experiences,  and backgrounds.)

Now, read over some of your work – especially books “in progress” – and see where you can improve it using these pointers. Your publisher will appreciate it and your readers will find you book much more readable!

So, until next time;
Write On!



Copyright: All Rights Reserved
Registered: 2012-03-20


Smashwords Prevails!

Please read, below, my post Food for Thought posted March 9. In it I cited a post which was titled censorship vs gagging.

Please read below to see the outcome of that”debate” as reported by Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords.


March 13, 2012

Smashwords author/publisher update: PayPal Reverses Proposed Censorship

“Great news. Yesterday afternoon I met with PayPal at their office in San Jose, where they informed me of their decision to modify their policies to allow legal fiction.

“Effective last night, we rolled back the Smashwords Terms of Service to its pre-February 24 state.

“It’s been a tumultuous, nerve-wracking few weeks as we worked to protect the right of writers to write and publish legal fiction.

“I would like to express my sincere thanks to Smashwords authors, publishers and customers. You stood up and made your voice known. Thank you to every Smashwords author and publisher who wrote me to express opinions, even if we disagreed, and even if you were angry with me. You inspired me to carry your cause forward.

“Smashwords authors, publishers and customers mobilized. You made telephone calls, wrote emails and letters, started and signed petitions, blogged, tweeted, Facebooked and drove the conversation. You made the difference. Without you, no one would have paid attention. I would also like to thank the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression (ABFFE) and the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC). These three advocacy groups were the first to stand up for our authors, publishers and customers. Their contribution cannot be overstated. We collaborated with them to build a coalition of like-minded organizations to support our mutual cause. Special kudos to Rainey Reitman of EFF for her energy, enthusiasm and leadership.

“I would also like to thank all the bloggers and journalists out there who helped carry our story forward by lending their platforms to get the story out. Special thanks to TechCrunch, Slashdot, TechDirt, The Independent (UK), Reuters, Publishers Weekly, Dow Jones, The Digital Reader, CNET, Forbes, GalleyCat & EbookNewser and dozens of others too numerous to mention.

“I would like to thank our friends at PayPal. They worked with us in good faith as they promised, engaged us in dialogue, made the effort to understand Smashwords and our mission, went to bat for our authors with the credit card companies and banks, and showed the courage to revise their policies.

“This is a big, bold move by PayPal. It represents a watershed decision that protects the rights of writers to write, publish and distribute legal fiction. It also protects the rights of readers to purchase and enjoy all fiction in the privacy of their own imagination. It clarifies and rationalizes the role of financial services providers and pulls them out of the business of censoring legal fiction.

“Following implementation of their new policies, PayPal will have the most liberal, pro-First-Amendment policies of the major payment processors. Will Google Checkout and Checkout by Amazon be next now that the credit card companies have clarified their positions, and have essentially given payment providers the permission to adopt more enlightened policies? Finally, thanks to Selena Kitt of Excessica and Remittance Girl for helping me to understand and respect all fiction more than I ever have before.

“This is a bright day for indie publishing. In the old world, traditional publishers were the arbiters of literary merit. Today, thanks to the rise of indie ebooks, the world is moving toward a broader, more inclusive definition of literary merit. Smashwords gives writers the power and freedom to publish. Merit is decided by your readers. Just as it should be.”

Mark Coker

Twitter: http://twitter.com/markcoker
Blog: http://blog.smashwords.com


There’s no news like good news! Eh? This is something we authors and publishers can celebrate. (I’ll bring the drinks!)

Write On!



Copyright: All Rights Reserved
Registered: 2012-03-14

In Order To Achieve & Get Ahead, You Must Start From The Bottom of The Ladder

In Order To Achieve & Get Ahead, You Must Start From The Bottom of The Ladder.

Smashwords: Are Copyright Statements Copyrightable?

Smashwords: Are Copyright Statements Copyrightable?.

Please take the time to read the article above. Smashwords publishers and authors, if you haven’t already read this, will find this very helpful. Particularly in party with earlier discussions.

Read on:

And Keep Writing!

Food for Thought!

The following essay was posted on BookRix by screen name “elisa1215” on Mar 8th 2012 at 12:11:29. If you will note her first and 18th paragraphs.

As writers and publishers, I think we can’t help but agree with this post.

Read on!

Censorship vs. gagging.

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...

“My Dad is uploading his work onto smashwords. Mark Coker, the site owner wrote him a message. This was his response, which he asked me to sen to you all:

“Does the date:10,

Mai 1933 mean anything to you?

“It was a day of infamy as far as ‘non-German’ (aryan) literature was concerned.

“One can compare it to the a*****e [sic.] who caused a world-wide outrage when he announced he would burn copies of the Koran.

“We saw the consequences of the incident in Afghanistan when a number of the Holy book of Islam was burned.

“So, these articles that were forever destroyed, were only bits of paper and ink one might say.

“The Bible is written on ink and on paper, what if that were also burnt because of its literary content?

“‘So what?’ Some people will say.

“I say ‘shame’, others though, will cry out ‘Sacrilege’.

“The following was part of the ‘letter’.

Image representing PayPal as depicted in Crunc...

“‘Two weeks ago, Paypal threatened to deactivate the account of Smashwords, if Smas

hwords did not immediately stop

selling certain categories of e-books that PayPal found offensive.

“‘This is censorship at its worst.

“‘Smashwords is a site dedicated to promoting new and established authors’ fiction and non-fiction.

“‘Today, I and other authors around the world now feel anger

and frustration, and we fear the day when censorship means your book, our books, our work will be cast into the fire, just because somebody does not agree to the contents.

“‘I fear a future where all books are banned (Fahrenheit 451), followed by all works of art.

“‘If you don’t agree with a book’s contents, then don’t read it.

“‘I once saw carved in stone, these words, “Freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want and freedom from fear”.

“‘I am all for freedom of speech, after they take that away, what follows?

“‘If you believe in free speech then pass this message on everywhere you can.’

“Paypal is owned by Ebay. “His master’s voice”.

Image representing eBay as depicted in CrunchBase



Copyright: All Rights Reserved
Registered: 2012-03-12

Answers to Copyright Questions

In the past few days I have come across a couple things relating to copyright and copyright infringement.

First, I just finished reading a book which has been very helpful. I found it free on Smashwords.com. The book is: They Stole Your Book. Now What? by Ruth Ann Nordin.

Ms Nordin had a number of books which were stolen from Amazon.com and released under another person’s name and once under a different title. She had to jump through numerous hoops, write to Amazon, and even consult with a copyright attorney. Her book assists those who may find themselves in a similar predicament.

Yesterday I found a website called My Free Copyright. They offer absolutely FREE Copyright Protection. I tried it here on this blog and had no problems with it, nor any bill or receipt. Just a notice that my blog is now “safe”.© is the copyright symbol in a copyright notice

Check out these two resources. I know that you will find a lot of help from either or both of them.

Don’t forget, anything on the internet is easy to get hold of, steal, and call your own. Copyright is your protection from “web theft”.

New Page Link

Useful Links Page:

Take a minute to view the resources on the new Useful Links page. Let me know if it was at all useful and if you have any others you’d like to add. This can become a Write On! Publishing blog group interactive page.

Thanks so much for joining!

Write On!

Copyright: All Rights Reserved
Registered: 2012-03-12