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Crafting Dynamic Dialogue by Cheryl St. John, Writer's Digest Writer's Digest Editors

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Chapter 23

Tighten Your Scenes with Dialogue

Donald Maass

A common downfall of many scenes is dialogue. The characters talk, talk, talk, but scenes spin in circles and don’t travel much of anywhere. Plenty of dialogue in manuscripts also is hard to follow. Choked with incidental action, broken into fragments, and strewn over the length of a page, it can take almost archaeological skill to piece together an exchange.

Dialogue not only needs to do its own work, it also can bring clarity to middle scenes that would otherwise be muddy and inactive. Dialogue is strong (or can be). The process of stripping it down and finding the tension in it can be revealing. It can help define the purpose of a scene.

Brunonia Barry’s best-selling debut novel,

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