Forms of Dialogue

silentmetaphor

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I refer to technique or a style used in different pieces of literature to build the perspective of the character.

What would be considered a more optimal form of description or narration ( by the character )?

What would be considered an orthodox form of a written conversation between two ( or more characters ) characters, with or without necessary adjustments for the style of the story?

What are the best examples of first-person narration or inner dialogue/monologue ( describing the situations, conversations, action..etc)?

Would you like to suggest good examples of a combination of both inner and outer dialogue ( cases: character is narrating about past interactions; a form of layered conversation; the conversation between two characters narrated by third...etc. ).
 

The Judge

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I'm not sure I fully understand your questions here, silentmetaphor, and while this may well be my thick-headedness this morning, I wonder if the rather academic style of prose and phrasing that you tend to employ may be part of the problem.

What I think would help me, and perhaps others, get to grips with your queries is if you gave us an idea what is behind the questions.

For instance, if you are yourself writing and having difficulty with certain aspects, then it might make it easier if we knew what that was eg something like "I'm trying to write a scene where character A is telling character B about a conversation he overheard between characters C and D. What is the best way to go about it?" would allow us to give more concrete and specific advice and perhaps remind us of books where we've read such a scene. (And in that case I'd suggest avoiding the issue by writing the scene in full where character A overhears the conversation and then the later scene with character B can be simply "A told B all she had overheard" before you go on to deal with their discussion of the motives and implications etc behind C and D's conversation.)

However, if you are doing some kind of academic exercise comparing how different languages deal with different literary techniques, then you may well be asking the wrong people! Although we have writers on the site with MAs in creative writing, I think most of us just rather muddle our way through by trial and error rather than deeply analysing other works on a technical basis.

Meanwhile, I can confirm that Carol Berg, who also writes under the name Cate Glass, often writes in first person from one POV through a book, and she deals with all aspects that come from that including the mix of narration, inner monologue/thoughts and conversation.
 

silentmetaphor

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I'm not sure I fully understand your questions here, silentmetaphor, and while this may well be my thick-headedness this morning, I wonder if the rather academic style of prose and phrasing that you tend to employ may be part of the problem.
Sorry about my "odd English" again. It's all my weird habit of using terms/words unusual for the context. I tend to employ words based on every single of their definitions, sometimes completely ignoring the connotation.
What I think would help me, and perhaps others, get to grips with your queries is if you gave us an idea what is behind the questions.
I understand that my questions may seem demanding, but all I'm asking is an opinion and maybe some suggestions... your experience if you are willing to share, nothing more. ( specific example or broadly exactly what would be considered a typical form of dialogue, ofc if there is one. )

Thank you for your suggestion, that was exactly the type of answer I was expecting, even though now I know how awkward my questions may seem to others. Your criticism is very helpful.
 

Wayne Mack

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Perhaps it would help to repost a single specific question. I see four questions, each written to include almost everything. I don't think it is due to the terminology used, but the lack of specificity in the questions. What is it that you truly want to discuss with us?
 

tinkerdan

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It is easy(especially possibly here)to mistake Perspective with Point of View[POV]
So I first might assume that you are making a distinction rather than lumping these two together.
I suggest the above link to form at least one opinion of the difference in the two,

I actually utilize this in my first novel.
The book is primarily the first person account of the MC; however I intersperse some third person scenes from other characters, because I wanted to do exactly what is described in the article above, where there are other perspectives that alter the reader's perception of the scene and bring to question the veracity of the MC's perspective.

First person alone of one single character is extremely limited and though it can be used to some extent to dig into other character perspectives by use of dialogue and action(body expression), it is extremely prone to conundrum in that the POV can color the other character perspectives because of how the POV interprets what they see and hear; or see and don't hear; or hear and don't see.

In using the first person for the MC and third person for other characters, I attempt to utilize and demonstrate the potential for conundrum and misunderstanding. I could have used all first person of a single POV and perhaps along the way demonstrated the misperception whenever the MC were to discover their error in judgement. However, in this case, the story I tell, it is more important that the reader knows these things to understand the MC's actions and their potential of error before the character does.

There are enough other mysteries and questions in the story that won't so easily and naturally be demonstrated from the various POV that it seems easier on the reader to limit the number of perspective limiting issues and the clarity helps define some of the motive and nature of the MC.

In Cripple-Mode Hot Electric I use a combination of internal dialogue narrative and external with the MC First Person POV being the sole character in the scene of the first chapter that builds upon perspective of the character within the scene as certain sensory cues elicit memories and internal dialogue that all seem like a cheat at world building while they are leading to the moment a second character comes into the scene and inevitably questions the perspective of the character.

In several later instances after establishing there will be third person POV in the story I utilize that to begin a Third Person narrative that eventually proves to be 'third person' as told by the MC in First Person. These scenes are particularly different in that they start out reading almost like a slightly subjective Omniscient POV, but are in reality a First Person POV.

I'm not sure if any of this helps the OP move along in the discussion.

I could possibly post examples from the book; however they might be a bit long in order to demonstrate what I'm talking about.
 

silentmetaphor

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Perhaps it would help to repost a single specific question. I see four questions, each written to include almost everything. I don't think it is due to the terminology used, but the lack of specificity in the questions. What is it that you truly want to discuss with us?
The first and second questions are alternatives to each other, so If you are willing to share, pick one of them. I intended to have few versions, similar but not identical questions. It's more about your interpretation of them.
I'm asking for your opinion or specific examples, experience and nothing more.
I intended to be less specific.
I would like to discuss anything about perspective, narration or even point of view... different techniques or styles.
 

sknox

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>What would be considered a more optimal form of description or narration ( by the character )?
More optimal than what? The word choice here is clear enough, but the question is incomplete.

>What would be considered an orthodox form of a written conversation between two ( or more characters ) characters
By whom? There are no orthodoxies in literature, so that's not really the right word here. But the more important question is who is doing the considering in this context? Are you perhaps asking for an example of a conversation (we assume written, since this is a writing forum) that takes a common form?

As for the rest, I would not care to suggest best or even good examples of any of those forms. I can, however, suggest a best approach: to read, read, read, and having read, to choose what appeals to you as good and best.
 

silentmetaphor

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It is easy(especially possibly here)to mistake Perspective with Point of View[POV]

So I first might assume that you are making a distinction rather than lumping these two together.
I suggest the above link to form at least one opinion of the difference in the two,
I don't necessarily have a problem differentiating them, but for the prevention of future mistakes, I want to have a better understanding of boundaries ( Common, orthodox forms of expression/writing, basically limitations ). I noticed that it's relatively hard to build dynamic multi-perspective dialogue ( not just multiperspective narration, but also from the first-person to first-person dynamics, like head-hopping) without confusing readers.
I tried to blend the first-person point of view and the narrator's point of view as perspective ( not necessarily one )... the main character or characters limited the vision, while the narrator describes action and environment outside of that box. So, I want to know how achievable it is without serious complications.

Thank you for your suggestions and it is indeed helpful.
 

DLCroix

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Well, in my humble opinion there is no recipe, none of us can tell you to do it this way or another because it is something that you must find within yourself. It's about the narrative voice, you understand? Which, along with the style, will provide you with a unique tone to tell things about; but you can only modify or circumvent the rules if you know them. On the other hand, your bedside bible should be On Writing, by Stephen King. IM going so fast? Darling, you seem even more hasty, so get that book right away. There is no recipe, I repeat, except for the experience that will give you writing over and over again and the critic that will grow in you as a result of reading both books. A slight poll in this same forum will allow you to have a closer idea of what is appropriate to read. If you wish, track my own posts and you will see what I advise to read in that regard. Regarding building the perspective of the character, description or narration, etc., we have already thrown all the dishes in our heads and to have, so the solution is also to dive into the forum.
Orthodox form ... Honey, pull out those cobwebs, the first requirement of a writer is his aggressiveness and the second his audacity. Wake up.
What are the best examples of first-person narration or inner dialogue / monologue (describing the situations, conversations, action..etc)? Again Godzilla King. On Writing. It will be clear in less the time of a beer.

Anyway I will give you a kind of summary with what I will write next, but you must be aware that I am parachuting you when you still do not know how to fold it. But you are asking for advice and it is my duty to provide it.
Theory of communication in a minute: you are the sender of the message, therefore the message must be an arrow, and depending on how well armed that arrow is and the ability of the issuer or archer is the impact it will have on the reader . Having that already clear, when writing I recommend using the American advertising model of the 30s. AIDA. Action, interest, desire and action, the latter, on the part of the reader. Study everything related to the opening phrase or hook phrase. Half of the advertising is dedicated to studying how with a sentence you capture the interest of the reader.
That can also be starting with a dialogue, in the traditional way, or in a sneaky way, if the narrator of your story does it in the first person. This type of narrator is actually a monologue, therefore it offers immediate advantages in the sense that you save the dialogue between quotation marks and only reserve it for the interventions of the other characters.
The style of the story defines the same way in which you have to present the dialogues. But your interest should be that your reader does not take his head off your book. For this there are many techniques: you have the flip, umlaut versus diegesis, double splicing, racconto, cause effect, ellipsis, cliffhangers, etc., but regardless of that, each paragraph must have a narrative intention and be attractive in itself. Which also concerns dialogue. In a movie one detects immediately, and it looks horrible, when a character says something or describes something because it is the only way. But a character describing things makes the reader immediately close the book. Keep that in mind. The abundance of dialogue also tires the reader. Damn Netflix. This is literature, man. The more television you watch, the less a writer you are because you are writing with your mind on the screen. :ninja:
 

CTRandall

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I want to know how achievable it is without serious complications.
Short answer: I don't think it is.

One of the main reasons head-hopping is avoided is precisely because it can quickly become confusing. Your idea of 'dynamic multi-perspective dialogue' sounds almost by definition to involve serious complications and run the risk of confusing readers.

the main character or characters limited the vision, while the narrator describes action and environment outside of that box

This happens all of the time, but not while remaining solely in 1st person from the character's POV. There would be no way to differentiate between the character and the narrator and the contradiction between imperfect knowledge and perfect knowledge would make no sense. Again, there is a reason that authors are careful to distinguish between voices and perspectives.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of a single piece of prose or poetry that does what you describe to any substantial extent. (Assuming I understand correctly what it is you're looking for.) That should tell you something...
 

Wayne Mack

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The first and second questions are alternatives to each other, so If you are willing to share, pick one of them. I intended to have few versions, similar but not identical questions. It's more about your interpretation of them.
I'm asking for your opinion or specific examples, experience and nothing more.
I intended to be less specific.
I would like to discuss anything about perspective, narration or even point of view... different techniques or styles.
First I will give some hints on simplification and then I will provide some links that might address your concerns.

One of the first ways to simplify is to omit all 'and' and 'or' clauses. Limit the scope to just one item. The first two listed questions ask about description, narration, and conversation, which covers almost all aspects of writing fiction. Pick one and ask about it. The initial question then asked for someone to provide examples, though I see it was later amended to opinion, examples, or experience. Asking people to search out and enter examples is a huge ask for a volunteer forum. Opinion should be the implied response. I am not sure what experience would be applicable.

The essence of simplification is the elimination of the extraneous.

I suggest the Brandon Sanderson lecture series ( https://www.youtube.com/user/WriteAboutDragons/videos ) to perhaps address your concerns. I think the following specific lectures may address your question.
 

silentmetaphor

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Well, in my humble opinion there is no recipe, none of us can tell you to do it this way or another because it is something that you must find within yourself.
Opinions and experiences you share with me are more than enough... so thank you very much for the reply and presented theory.
 

silentmetaphor

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First I will give some hints on simplification and then I will provide some links that might address your concerns.

One of the first ways to simplify is to omit all 'and' and 'or' clauses. Limit the scope to just one item. The first two listed questions ask about description, narration, and conversation, which covers almost all aspects of writing fiction. Pick one and ask about it. The initial question then asked for someone to provide examples, though I see it was later amended to opinion, examples, or experience. Asking people to search out and enter examples is a huge ask for a volunteer forum. Opinion should be the implied response. I am not sure what experience would be applicable.
I end up in an awkward whirl of misinterpretations... I didn't intend to make any demand for exact, "dissected" examples. Anything mildly descriptive of the technique or specific work ( just linked work, with or without deduction ).
I'm very thankful but also surprised and a bit concerned you spend time assembling a proper guide for me. Which is definitely beyond anything I was hoping for.
Thank you again for your reply/suggestions.
 

silentmetaphor

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This happens all of the time, but not while remaining solely in 1st person from the character's POV. There would be no way to differentiate between the character and the narrator and the contradiction between imperfect knowledge and perfect knowledge would make no sense. Again, there is a reason that authors are careful to distinguish between voices and perspectives.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of a single piece of prose or poetry that does what you describe to any substantial extent. (Assuming I understand correctly what it is you're looking for.) That should tell you something...
I tried to use special ( as a marker of some sorts ) repetitive sequences ( from character to character, which obviously is extremely limiting ), but I'm not sure that it will make the story more digestible or perceptible... I aimed to turn every conversation or dialogue into the introduction to a new scene, this way each sequence would be unique to not only a combination of characters ( setting expectations ) but also the environment and change of it/modifications ( to already introduced, presented ones ).
Ofc building the intuition of readers is pretty ambitious and rather demanding( I often combine visuals and descriptions of what I imagine, which created this dilemma ), but I still wanted to find the acceptable form.

Thank you again for your reply.
 

silentmetaphor

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>What would be considered a more optimal form of description or narration ( by the character )?
More optimal than what? The word choice here is clear enough, but the question is incomplete.

>What would be considered an orthodox form of a written conversation between two ( or more characters ) characters
By whom? There are no orthodoxies in literature, so that's not really the right word here. But the more important question is who is doing the considering in this context? Are you perhaps asking for an example of a conversation (we assume written, since this is a writing forum) that takes a common form?

As for the rest, I would not care to suggest best or even good examples of any of those forms. I can, however, suggest a best approach: to read, read, read, and having read, to choose what appeals to you as good and best.
From the first sentence - build the perspective of the character ( by the character, his dialogue or conversations; a form of it and how it presents, displays, refect's the "reality" ).
A more optimal form of narration or description refers to a more favourable or nonproblematic form of description or narration ( I sometimes ignore the connotation and hang the context on broader or on shared definitions of the word/term ).
Pretty much the same with the word Orthodox ( even though I would argue that In English Literature there are common trends associated with dialogue or narration ). I utilized the word Orthodox, because of base-definition - "conforming to what is generally or traditionally accepted as right or true" (of a person or their views )- "established and approved"... So, it refers to your views and known trends, nothing more.

As for the last bit, I wish I had more time to read, read and read... but yea TIME.

Thank you for your reply.
 

Laura R Hepworth

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Okay, so are you basically asking how you can do multiple POV without making everything confusing and losing your reader? If so, the easiest way that I can think if is to preface each POV change with the name of the character. This would be done at a scene break or at the start of a new chapter and clearly identifies whose POV is now being used and doesn't interfere with the narrative flow because it's making use of existing breaks to create a smooth transition.

As for trying to write the narration in 1st person omniscient and the dialogue in 1st person limited and all from the same character(s) viewpoint and in a way that won't end up being a disaster. To be perfectly blunt, you can't. All you're likely to achieve is a perfect mess that will leave your readers confused and, possibly, even annoyed. The only way that I can think of where you might be be able to make this work is if you are writing in 1st person past tense and, even then, I have a difficult time imagining it as being a smooth and enjoyable read.

It sounds to me like you may be making things more complicated than you need to. If the way you are trying to write isn't working, then just change it instead of beating your head against a wall trying to make a square peg fit into a round hole.
 

tinkerdan

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@silentmetaphor I think it's time to refer back to @The Judge and the notion that you might be trying to begin a discussion that is steeped heavily into how different languages use dialogue and Narrative differently.

Take this for instance.
From the first sentence - build the perspective of the character ( by the character, his dialogue or conversations; a form of it and how it presents, displays, refect's the "reality" ).
A more optimal form of narration or description refers to a more favourable or nonproblematic form of description or narration ( I sometimes ignore the connotation and hang the context on broader or on shared definitions of the word/term ).
Pretty much the same with the word Orthodox ( even though I would argue that In English Literature there are common trends associated with dialogue or narration ). I utilized the word Orthodox, because of base-definition - "conforming to what is generally or traditionally accepted as right or true" (of a person or their views )- "established and approved"... So, it refers to your views and known trends, nothing more.

As for the last bit, I wish I had more time to read, read and read... but yea TIME.

Thank you for your reply.
I'm not sure at all what you are driving at. Perhaps there is a way to cut past your rhetoric.

Perhaps it would be best if first you gave some instructive examples of writing that follows both your definitions and what it is that you seek to discuss--otherwise you are likely to get a whole lot of responses that tend to be way out in left field.

take this:
A more optimal form of narration or description refers to a more favourable or nonproblematic form of description or narration ( I sometimes ignore the connotation and hang the context on broader or on shared definitions of the word/term ).

So, show us what is unfavorable and problematic; because this sentence sounds like it was lifted out of context of a much larger discussion that would include just exactly that before it begins to examine ways of finding the more favorable.

and this:
Pretty much the same with the word Orthodox ( even though I would argue that In English Literature there are common trends associated with dialogue or narration ). I utilized the word Orthodox, because of base-definition - "conforming to what is generally or traditionally accepted as right or true" (of a person or their views )- "established and approved"... So, it refers to your views and known trends, nothing more.

I'm fairly certain that you are not talking about dialogue and narrative in the same sense as what we usually discuss in fact by your definition I'd almost guess that by dialogue you might be talking about the type of discussion that you are trying to open up here rather than two or more people speaking in a narrative scene. Although it is possible that you could have a scene that contains that type of dialogue there is much more that goes on in writing fiction and using narrative and dialogue.

I really think it is fair to begin by asking you to give us examples.
Specifically of something that shows your 'optimal'. Something that demonstrates your ideas of favorable/unfavorable and problematic and nonproblematic.

Otherwise I know for a certainty that I won't be able to follow your rhetoric nor be able to contribute intelligently.
In this instance:
What would be considered an orthodox form of a written conversation between two ( or more characters ) characters, with or without necessary adjustments for the style of the story?
When you say orthodox do you mean perhaps organic--I ask in that it seems more likely that would be a concern: that the dialogue would organically fit into the narrative scene.

All of the OP seems to hover around what we normally call writing well.
So maybe you are just asking for examples of how to write well.

I think if you just start reading published authors you will begin to see the miriade ways of writing well.
 
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Toby Frost

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If the question is "Can you give me any examples of good dialogue?" then I'd immediately think of Raymond Chandler. He's a noir writer from the 1950s, and so it's quite "tough" and the slag is dated, but it flows well and isn't a caricature.

The other author I would recommend that you read is George Orwell, particularly his essays "Politics and the English Language" and "The Prevention of Literature", and the rules for writing at the end of "Why I Write". In them, Orwell makes the case for using shorter, clearer language and why it's important to be able to communicate ideas simply and effectively. Obviously, people have different styles, and I'm not saying "Write like Orwell" - but at the moment, I find it hard to understand exactly what you mean. Clearer and simpler words will help greatly. For instance, "utilise" can almost always be replaced with "use", which is a more natural word and easier to understand. Likewise "more optimal" reads more easily as "better", and "problematic" can usually be replaced with "bad". As I say, having an individual style is fine (and necessary), but where style is getting in the way of meaning, it needs rethinking.
 

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Thanks for confirming the mistype, Toby -- I'm glad to see you weren't actually using a disparaging term for the standard noir femme fatale!! :p


I have to confess, @silentmetaphor, that despite your attempts at clarification, I'm still not sure what help you need which we can give you in a discussion of this kind. I do think that the problem is you're looking at this as an academic, or perhaps because in your native language there are rules which constrain how things are written; rules that by and large don't exist in English, other than in grammar and the like. There are perhaps better/less controversial/more usual/more fashionable ways of doing things -- eg not head-hopping within scenes, not having too many characters talking -- but the only rule is Does It Work? If it works, it doesn't matter what others do or don't do; if it doesn't work, then it needs to be re-written, no matter how "orthodox" it might be in construction or style.

Rather than have us all talk at cross purposes, I really do think you need to show us what the problem is, and in perhaps simpler more direct language so there is less room for misunderstanding. As you now have over 30 counted posts, I'd suggest you put up an extract of your work in Critiques -- perhaps just 400 or 500 words to begin with -- and let us work out from that if the issue you're having with your writing is over POV use or the conflict between dialogue and narration/exposition or if it's something else altogether.
 

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