Is my dialogue okay?

From my last book, Killuminati, I've been using the same kind of dialogue, and I'm not sure if it's something I really need to work on.

Here's some dialogue from my new novel, Moral. How bad is it? Do you think I need to entirely change the way I write?

 

"Xavier." He taps me lightly on the shoulder. "I got the Moral. Are the others in the Valley?"
I look Aaron in the eye. He's always been a person of great intentions, but I know that he would've never imagined himself huffing lighter gas.
"Yeah. Everyone's there." I walk a few steps back, away from the dumpster. "Which session is this, again?"
He lets go of the plastic bags in his hands and sets them on the ground. One can of Moral rolls out of the bag and I grab it.
"Session fifty-nine..." Aaron looks at the paper in his hand with disbelief. "60 sessions of Moral? Didn't you tell us that ten sessions would be the ABSOLUTE max?"
I told them that ten sessions would be enough, and that was obviously a lie. But what I didn't tell them is that one hundred sessions won't be enough either. I'm not worried, though. They're all addicted.
"This is your choice, Aaron." I look him in the eye. "You have the brain to decide if this is what it takes to see your mother again."
He looks down at the sidewalk and squints his eyes. "I'd do anything."
"I know." I place the can of Moral back into the bag. "Let's get moving. The others will wonder why we've taken so long."
Before Aaron begins walking toward the road that leads to the Valley, I put a hand on his shoulder.
"You'll see her. I know you will."

Comments

  • Spell out "Sixty" and for use italics instead of all caps.

    I think the dialog sounds all right, but the way in which you've interspersed the action too often gives a disjointed, discontinuous effect to the reading. 

    For instance, I think the dialog it would read more smoothly if it were written more like this example...

    Xavier," he says, tapping me lightly on the shoulder, "I got the Moral. Are the others in the Valley?"
    I look Aaron in the eye. He's always been a person of great intentions, but I know that he would've never imagined himself huffing lighter gas. 
    "Yeah," I reply as I walk a few steps back, away from the dumpster. "Everyone's there. Which session is this, again?"


  • omario7221 a écrit :

    I look Aaron in the eye.


     

    Er ... Just curious ... Shouldn't it be : "I look at Aaron in the eye(s)"?

     

  • Yeah, I noticed I interspersed a bit too much... and I know I should spell sixty out (it must've been a common error.) I really want to be careful with this next novel which is why I need to break down my writing technique and find my most common mistakes. Thanks for the feedback, Ron Smiley Happy
  • I believe both are correct, no?

  • potetjp wrote:

    omario7221 a écrit :

    I look Aaron in the eye.


     

    Er ... Just curious ... Shouldn't it be : "I look at Aaron in the eye(s)"?

     


    No. 

  • SphinxCameronSphinxCameron Southern Escarpment Hill Country ✭✭

    potetjp wrote:

    omario7221 a écrit :

    I look Aaron in the eye.


     

    Er ... Just curious ... Shouldn't it be : "I look at Aaron in the eye(s)"?

     


    "I look at Aaron's eyes"

    or

    "I look Aaron in the eyes"

  • You guys are being much too literal. To "look someone in the eye" is an idiom and it's used correctly in the context.

    http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/look+in+the+face

    http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=1292273

  • Perhaps it's not right to tell other people how to write? Unless the writing is terrible, and this is not terrible. If it can be understood it should be OK. We should not all write in an identical manner Smiley Happy Nevertheless >> How I may have done it >>

     

    "Xavier." He taps me lightly on the shoulder. "I got the Moral. Are the others in the Valley?"
    I look Aaron in the eye. He's always been a person of great intentions, but I know that he would've never imagined himself huffing lighter gas.
    "Yeah. Everyone's there." I walk a few steps back, away from the dumpster. "Which session is this, again?"
    He lets go of the plastic bags he had been holding and sets them on the ground. One can of Moral rolls out of the bag and I grab it.
    "Session fifty-nine..." Aaron looks at the paper in his hand with disbelief. "Sixty sessions of Moral? Didn't you tell us that ten sessions would be the ABSOLUTE max?"
    I had told them that ten sessions would be enough, but that was obviously a lie. But what I hadn't told them is that one hundred sessions won't be enough either. I'm not worried, though. They're all addicted.
    "This is your choice, Aaron." I look him in the eye. "You have the brain to decide if this is what it takes to see your mother again."
    He looks down at the sidewalk and squints his eyes. "I'd do anything."
    "I know." I place the can of Moral back into the bag. "Let's get moving. The others will wonder why we've taken so long."
    Before Aaron begins walking toward the road that leads to the Valley, I put a hand on his shoulder.
    "You'll see her. I know you will."

    You may not even notice my adjustments, because some is just 'me', but with my own words I often spend hours tinkering, and to me the above would just be a rough draft, because eventually I would add more 'emotions' etc. The right tenses can be difficult for example.

  •  "I look Aaron in the eyes"?

    As already said, no that's correct and is what people would actually say, too. "At" is 'redundant' in that context.

  • Really appreciate what you're saying here... and you reminded me of a key point: emotions. I honestly felt that my writing has been focused mainly on dialogue and actions, without too much emotion from the main character. Thanks for the feedback, Kevin!
  • Thanks a lot for your answers concerning the expression "look sb. in the eye".

  • What hasn't been pointed out is how often he 'looks Aaron in the eye'. Surely twice in such a short extract is one too many?

  • Perhaps he looks him in the eye twice? Smiley Happy

    I would be better if it said "... again" but somewhere between the two uses of it, looks away.

    It's only a rough draft when all said and done.

     

  • "Session fifty-nine..." Aaron looks at the paper in his hand with disbelief. "60 sessions of Moral? Didn't you tell us that ten sessions would be the ABSOLUTE max?"
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    http://hotmailloginproblem.com/
    http://geometrydashfree.com/
  • I tend to keep space into consideration when doing dialouge. Each speaker has their dialogue boxed up in quotation marks and has spaces seperating it from the other speakers. The exception is one speaker uses more than one paragraph for their dialogue. In this case the previous sentence you leave out the quotations marks on the end of their sentence. So, the writer should keep track of their quotation marks and spaces between paragraphs.

     

    I'll also second the usage of telling who says what. I mean, i read a few Thomas Harris books where he didnt follow this rule..... and I hated it.


  • facsmth wrote:

    I tend to keep space into consideration when doing dialouge. Each speaker has their dialogue boxed up in quotation marks and has spaces seperating it from the other speakers. The exception is one speaker uses more than one paragraph for their dialogue. In this case the previous sentence you leave out the quotations marks on the end of their sentence. So, the writer should keep track of their quotation marks and spaces between paragraphs.

     

    I'll also second the usage of telling who says what. I mean, i read a few Thomas Harris books where he didnt follow this rule..... and I hated it.



    facsmth wrote:

    I tend to keep space into consideration when doing dialouge. Each speaker has their dialogue boxed up in quotation marks and has spaces seperating it from the other speakers. The exception is one speaker uses more than one paragraph for their dialogue. In this case the previous sentence you leave out the quotations marks on the end of their sentence. So, the writer should keep track of their quotation marks and spaces between paragraphs.

     

    I'll also second the usage of telling who says what. I mean, i read a few Thomas Harris books where he didnt follow this rule..... and I hated it.


    I take it from this that you add an extra space between paragraphs? If you are indenting paragraphs this is not necessary. Nor is an extra space needed to separate speakers: that is what quotation marks are for. Extra spacing between paragraphs only creates a kind of visual hurdle for the reader's eye---a minute interruption in the smooth and continous reading of a page, like tiny bumps in a road.

  • The normal rules of dialog are these:

     

    Each speaker gets a new paragraph, each time he or she speaks. If the same speaker speaks twice consecutively, it can remain in the same paragraph:

     

    "Hello," she said.

     

    "Hi," he responded. "Lovely day today." He paused. "But then, every day is lovely when it isn't February."

     

    Paragraphs may be distinguished by a skipped line, as here, or by indentation. Since the forum does not do indentation well, please ignore extra dots:

     

    ........ "Hello," she said.

    ........ "Hi," he responded. "Lovely day today." He paused. "But then,

    Everyday is lovely when it isn't February."

    ....... "How so?" she asked.

     

    In the event that a speaker speaks more than a single paragraph, do not close the paragraph with a quote. Begin the next paragraph with a quote. This will tell the reader that the same speaker continues to speak.

     

    ...... "I have always hated February. It reminds me of the time a

    banana slug ran amok in the playing fields. Blah blah blah blah

    blah blah blah, and thus February has always seemed like a

    terrible state of mind.

    ...... "March is no better, but more importantly, it is no worse, and

    neither am I. And yet, yada yada, yada."

    ...... "How long have you felt this way?" she responded. "And was

    your childhood a happy time for you?"

     

    Thus Spake Zarathustra. And fortunately, we no longer have to debate the merits of following conventional rules.

  • I do want to reiterate that in indicating dialog on line and sometimes in ebooks, it is often difficult or impossible to indicate paragraphs other than by adding a space between them. But in print the convention is to indicate paragraphs solely by indentation.


  • jennyhannb wrote:
    "Session fifty-nine..." Aaron looks at the paper in his hand with disbelief. "60 sessions of Moral? Didn't you tell us that ten sessions would be the ABSOLUTE max?"
    ---------------------------------------------------------
    http://hotmailloginproblem.com/
    http://geometrydashfree.com/

    Use "Sixty" rather than "60." Numbers should be spelled out when beginning a sentence. 

     

  • There is also a general rule that numbers below one-hundred should be spelled, and above 100 indicated by numerals.


  • Ron Miller wrote:

    I do want to reiterate that in indicating dialog on line and sometimes in ebooks, it is often difficult or impossible to indicate paragraphs other than by adding a space between them. But in print the convention is to indicate paragraphs solely by indentation.


    Yes, as Ron says, indentation is greatly to be preferred, and should almost always prevail.

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