Monday, February 8, 2010

Balancing Act Number Two

Belinda here.

We're still talking about balancing. Last week we talked about openings. Today we're talking about narrative verses dialogue. Too much narrative equals slow pace--too much dialogue and your novel can sound like a script.

I tend to write dialogue naturally. Usually my rough drafts are as Missy and I say "talking heads." My characters talk and talk. And talk.

Did I mention they talk? A lot?

So, insert narrative. Narrative is setting, set up, internal thoughts, things like that. Again, personally I tend to write very light setting. The outside world is void in my rough drafts. It's something I really have to tackle when I'm revising. Maybe as I write more books I'll pay attention as I write the first draft. I believe it's something I can learn as I go. Practice makes perfect they say.

But there is a balance that needs to be maintained. There is a book titled Self Editing for Fiction Writers written by Renni Browne and Dave King. Every writer should own this book.
There is a chapter in the book titled Breaking Up is Easy to Do. The chapter talks about paragraphing and white space and how we, as authors, can speed up or slow down the pace of the story as needed.

If you're a writer do you tend to overdo dialogue or narrative? Or both, maybe? Neither? That's a possibility, also. That would be my goal.


  1. Hi Belinda,

    I'm really enjoying the columns on balance. I go overboard on narrative - trying to learn the balancing act.

  2. Like you said, I'm a talking heads person. I've found that if I try to think "Slow down!!" as I'm writing, I tend to calm down a little and let my characters think more and notice what's around them. I need to let my characters meander on occasion. :)

  3. Edwina,
    If we ever collabarate we'll have the perfect balance!!
    Isn't it amazing how we all have our natural ways about us.
    I hope to see you soon!!

  4. Missy,

    Ah, meandering....yes. My characters need to take a walk down that path also!! We need to keep each other on track, huh?

  5. Dialogue is my thing, and my manuscripts used to be void of any scene details. I've worked at layering in the scene and descriptions. I can do internal thought, but it is hard to balance. I think my first drafts have gotten better over the years. It definitely wasn't overnight.

  6. Introspection tends to be my downfall. It really can drag your story down. I've had to work hard on learning the difference between scenes and sequels. And when the best time is for each as well as the appropriate ways to weave internal thoughts, setting, and background without putting an info dump in the middle of my chapters. Like you, Lindi, I hope to get better at weaving long narrative passages with dialogue better as I "practice."

  7. Jenn,
    You're so doesn't happen overnight. But we keep on and persevere, recognizing where we need to improve, and learning how to make the process easier as we go along.

  8. Diana,

    Scenes and sequels. Yikes!! i've read and read Jack M. Bickham on Scene and Structure. Loads of great learning material in there...but again, doing it over and over will make us more aware of the process so that it comes naturally after a while.

  9. Um... I'm not sure, but I think I tend to overdo the narrative parts. I'm bad about info dumps which slow the story.

    Lindi, Great job on your balancing articles!

  10. Christy,
    I wish I could overdo narrative...well, actually I think I do that when I write my first person stories. It's much easier to just keep on going and going like the energizer bunny....I've gotten a lot of feedback regarding the slow pace in those stories...hey, that may be something I need to look into. I need to combine my first person voice and my third person voice...I'll write in second person--a combo of the two.