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Sunday, September 6, 2009

A Quick and Easy Way to Liven Up Your Stories

A Quick and Easy Way to Liven Up Your StoriesBy Sharon Lippincott

Do you want a quick and easy way to liven up your stories? Perk up their voice by using dialogue. It breathes life into stories in a way that's hard to match.
Think about how you tell a friend about an encounter with someone. Don't you generally recount the conversation, in a sort of "he said, she said" string? You probably don't recite it like you're reading both characters in a play script, but you'll give the background, then quote a couple of rounds of dialogue, then revert back to description.
This same strategy works in writing. For example, consider the following story clip:
...When I called Ellen, I told her I'd been sewing all afternoon, and it had made me feel young again because it reminded me of the way Mother had always insisted that I rip out seams that weren't perfect...
Compare that clip with the following dialogue and decide for yourself which you'd rather read:
"I feel like I'm fourteen again," I began when Ellen picked up the phone.
"Oh? And why is that?" she asked, as well she might. I have grandchildren older than that now.
"I worked on a sewing project all afternoon, and I don't think I've spent as much time ripping things out since I was that age," I explained. We both laughed, remembering what a perfectionist Mother was, and how she'd insist we rip out a seam and redo it if there was the slightest pucker, wobble, or other imperfection.
As you can see, the dialogue does make the story longer, but it also adds more background and fleshes out the scene.
You may be concerned about remembering the specific words in any conversation. After all, research shows that recall fades by the minute. Don't worry about it. . You won't remember precise wording. What you will remember are words that express the essence of your memory, and that's what you want to convey - the essence of the way things were and how they seem to you now. Write what you think they probably said, and chances are you'll be right.
Next time you write a story, dare to use some dialogue.
Sharon Lippincott, the author of THE HEART AND CRAFT OF LIFESTORY WRITING is the go-to gal for anyone who aspires to leave a written legacy of their life for future generations, or to write about their life for fun and personal growth. She conducts classes and workshops on life story writing and coaches individuals by phone and e-mail. Contact her via her blog or website for further information about coaching services or an entertaining and enlightening program for your group or conference.
Visit her website at http://www.sharonlippincott.com to download free eBooks and essays. Check out her blog at http://heartandcraft.blogspot.com for hundreds of tips about how to write your lifestory.
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