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Saturday, 12 January 2019

Refresh your dialogue writing with @VirginiaHeath_ PLUS win a copy of her AMAZING book! #giveaway #regency #romance #wip #fiction @rararesources

HOW TO… Write dialogue without it being stilted
By
Virginia Heath


Dialogue is one of those things which brings characters and situations alive, but it’s a tricky skill to master. Done well, and a reader should be able to both hear and see the characters speaking; done badly, it becomes long, meandering and dull or worse, confusing.  
Bizarrely, despite writing perfect prose for a living, when that prose involves dialogue, for a writer certain rules of grammar simply have to be broken. For a start, people rarely talk in full sentences. We finish each other’s sentences, give abrupt one word answers to equally short one word questions. Often, the true meaning is all in the subtle nuances or pauses rather than the words themselves. Each character needs to have their own distinct voice, so the reader can identify them simply by the way they sound. As authors, we are always told to show not tell, however it is easy to fall into the trap of using dialogue to do this and overdoing it by attempting to get the characters to say everything. 
And then there is the tricky problem of animating your characters as they speak. This makes them feel real because humans are not static creatures. In fact, the truth is you cannot show an entire scene using conversation alone. There is a very good reason for this- as humans, 90% of our communication is non-verbal. That’s an actual statistic and something I always try to bear in mind when constructing a good dialogue scene. Body language often tells us more of the truth than the words coming out of a character’s mouth. As do the internal thoughts of the character whose head you happen to be in. Dripping those human qualities into the conversation enrich it.
Let me give you an example. In the early scenes of The Uncompromising Lord Flint, when the hero is tasked with escorting the heroine, his prisoner, to London to stand trial, I need the readers to empathise with both characters from their first conversation despite one of them apparently being a traitor and their conversation being an interrogation…
She snorted and tossed her head dismissively. “There will be no leniency nor a fair trial. Your courts will hang me regardless of what I say or do not say. I have been tried and found guilty already. Non?”
“Perhaps that is the way they do things in France, but back home…”
“Spare me your superior English lies. I am not a fool Monsieur Flint. My confession makes your job much easier, yet it will not help me. Whether it is by an English hangman or a French assassin, my life is soon to be taken from me.” Her dark eyes locked with his and held. Beneath the façade insolence he saw sadness and fear and wished he hadn’t. She was easier to hate when devoid of all human feelings. Knowing she possessed some made it difficult to offer false hope.
“Confession is good for the soul, or so I am told. You will meet your maker knowing you repented at the end.”
“My maker knows the truth already Monsieur Flint. I have nothing to prove to him.”
“Perhaps you do not understand the gravity of what you have done? Are you aware of the consequences of your actions?” He didn’t bother pausing for an answer. “This year alone, eighteen men have been murdered thanks to you. Granted, many of them had it coming. Seduced by the easy riches that come from smuggling, they were lured to participate in high treason and reaped the rewards. When you dance with the Devil, you inevitably get burned. However, ten of those men were servants of the crown whose only crime was doing their duty. They were murdered in cold blood.”
“Not by me. I am merely the messenger!”
Instantly annoyed and determined to control it, Flint stood and braced his arms to loom across the desk. “They were simply doing their duty, yet your people reacted as true cowards always do. They killed innocent men to save their own corrupt skins.” He opened a drawer in his desk and pulled out a sheet of paper. He didn’t need the list. Their names were forever engraved on his heart, but he appreciated the gravitas of an official document as well as the bolster to his resolve to remain unmoved by her.
“Allow me to tell you about them. Let’s start with Customs Officer Richard Pruitt. His throat was cut when he boarded one of your ships before Christmas last. He is survived by his wife and three small daughters, none of whom are old enough to remember their brave father.” A quick glance showed that her face had blanched but she still met his gaze dead on. “Shall I continue?”
She shrugged and turned her head away from his gaze. “You will do as you please. No doubt.”
“You have blood on your hands Lady Jessamine.”
Her mouth opened as if to speak then clamped shut, her eyes now fixated on a spot on the floor. Temper had him reeling off three more names just as coldly, each was met with stoic silence. Her body was as still as a statue, and her composure just as hard. “Are you proud of yourself Lady Jessamine? Do you feel no shame for what you have done? No compassion for the lives you have destroyed? The widows and innocent children left bereft and impoverished by your greed and avarice?”
Her head whipped around and those untrustworthy eyes were swimming with unshed tears. “You know nothing about me Monsieur Flint! Nothing! And I shall tell you nothing. You can name every dead man. Every member of his family. Blame me for every travesty. And I shall reward you with my silence. My secrets are mine to take to the grave! A grave I am fully aware I might lie in soon.” One fat tear trickled over her ridiculously long and dark lower lashes and dripped down her cheek. Flint had seen enough female tears to be unaffected, but the matter of fact way she swiped it away and proudly set her shoulders got to him.
His words had hurt her. Deeply. He knew it with the same certainty that he knew his own mind. Lady Fane had a conscience. Something he didn’t want to know.
 
~
The Uncompromising Lord Flint
By
Virginia Heath
Imprisoned by her past—set free by her enemy!
Purchase Link
Charged with high treason, Lady Jessamine Fane is under the watchful eye of icily calm Lord Peter Flint.
It's a task this spy won’t be swayed from, no matter how alluring his prisoner! Only it’s not long before Flint realises that tenacious Jess hides a lifetime of pain.
With so much at stake, can he afford to take a chance on their powerful attraction?
~
When Virginia Heath was a little girl it took her ages to fall asleep, so she made up stories in her head to help pass the time while she was staring at the ceiling. 
As she got older, the stories became more complicated, sometimes taking weeks to get to the happy ending. Then one day, she decided to embrace the insomnia and start writing them down. 
Despite that, it still takes her forever to fall asleep.
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