One of my favorite instructors – as well as one of my favorite people! – is Laurie Schnebly Campbell. I learn something new and amazing in each of her classes AND in each of her posts! Read on…
Romantic novels lend themselves to D-words, don’t they? Dark and dazzling heroes delighted by daring and delicious heroines, dastardly villains dogged by defeat in difficult and dangerous conflicts…you get the idea.
But then there’s the down-side. Getting all that drama across to the reader requires a lot of darned hard work, both in terms of description and dialogue. And none of us (well, very few of us) are instinctively good at BOTH of those.
Yet we need them both.
Think about the writers you like best. Some are better at dialogue, some at description, and a few stars are fabulous at both. Other celebrated authors are perfectly good — even if not incredibly wonderful — at each of the D’s. But when you think about the people whose books you enjoy most, which names come to mind?
Best Of The Best
Which skill, dialogue or description, do those authors excel at?
It’s pretty rare that everyone on your list of favorites will be better at the same thing, right down the line. Even though I tend to enjoy dialogue more than description, some of the authors I love are amazingly good at description. And I’m always amazed when I hear a writer whose lyrical descriptions practically GLOW mutter, “I wish I were better at scripting dialogue.”
You probably know YOUR strong suit already. Your reviewers or critique partners or beta readers have commented on how vividly your characters’ conversations come to life, or how clearly they can see the setting where your opening chapter takes place. You might be especially good in that area because it’s a natural gift, or because you’ve worked hard at improving your skill.
Either way, that’s something to celebrate.
Struggling With The D’s
But what if you don’t have a natural gift for dialogue or for description? What if one comes fairly easily and the other leaves you feeling discouraged, disappointed, despondent, deflated, desolate — okay, you get the idea.
The thing is, description and dialogue each require the same basic set of skills. Most of us tend to think we’re stronger in one area and weaker in the other, but in fact they both rely on the exact same fundamentals.
What are those fundamentals?
Each one of those contributes to your dialogue as well as to your description. We’re not all equally good at every item on the list, but that doesn’t matter — those individual differences are what give each of us a unique voice.
And speaking of unique voices, that takes us right back to the earlier question about authors we love.
A Question For You…
So now I’m asking for opinions: who’s an author you love, and is that author better at description or dialogue? Or, putting it another way, which of those two writing skills comes to mind first when you think of this person’s books?
If your favorite writers are equally fabulous at both, that’s lovely for them and their readers, but it doesn’t help our survey much. What I’m looking for here is examples of writers who are particularly good at ONE of the big D’s.
And it’s totally okay if someone says “I love Nora Roberts’ description” and someone else says “I love Nora Roberts’ dialogue” — all that matters is what YOU especially like about her, or some other author’s, writing.
…Plus A Prize
Anybody who sends an answer goes into the drawing pool for free registration to my October 7-31 class, The Double D’s: Dynamic Description & Delicious Dialogue, which you can read about at WriterUniv.com. (It covers those six fundamentals mentioned above plus a few more, along with tips on both D’s from a variety of successful authors.)
Just send the name of a writer whose work you admire and whether you’re more impressed by their dialogue or description — if you want to give an example, that’s swell but not required. And I’ll look forward to seeing who makes the list!
Laurie, who’d love to discover some new recommendations OR be reminded of old favorites because either way it’ll be a treat!
Don’t forget to answer Laurie’s questions for a chance to win a prize!
Join us on Monday for Editor Tessa Shapcott!
Bio: Laurie Schnebly Campbell loves writing dialogue and hates writing description, but has to admit that books written by other authors — who feel exactly the opposite — are every bit as good as her own. Discovering how “both kinds of writers can build on their strengths in one area to improve the other” led her to collect tips from newly-published and long-established authors on creating fabulous Double D’s, which she’ll share in her October class at WriterUniv.com.
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