The Dialogue Novel

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Thread: The Dialogue Novel

  1. #1

    The Dialogue Novel

    In an earlier post today I mentioned that I was messing around with three different possible stories. One is a plan for a novella and it looks like I may try to write it in the Dialogue Novel format.

    ¨The dialogue novel is a unique creature. In it the conversations among characters are the primary or only means of narrative advancement.´

    So I am wondering if there is a way to forego the typical quotation marks style of separating the dialogue sections. I imagine in the end I will go with standard quotations but I´d like to give it some thought.

    It will be a series of monologues given by 8 different characters. (They are all speaking to a stray dog - this is what ties their experiences together)

    I am calling it ´Conversations with Sammi´ or something like that.

    I thought of opening and closing each chapter with a short narrative in 3rd person. Then the rest of the chapter will be each character´s voice, tellling their stories etc.

    Do I absolutely need to do it in quotations?

    I could italicize either the narrative or the dialogue to separate it .... not sure.


    David Gordon Burke
    PS - only found the one page that describes this type of novel.
    We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.
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  2. #2
    WF Veteran Riis Marshall's Avatar
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    Oct 2014
    Grantham, Lincolnshire - home of Isaac Newton and some woman whose name I've forgotten
    Hello David

    Gregory McDonald's Fletch is almost all dialogue. He uses quotation marks throughout.

    I would argue against too much italics. Personally I find it hard to read.

    But if each section is headed with a short third person introduction, maybe with the introduction in italics and all the dialogue without quotation marks it might work.

    Try a couple of chapters and see what it looks like.

    Good luck.

    All the best with your writing.

    Warmest regards
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  3. #3
    I think we usually call those scripts... Anyway, on to your question, I agree with Riis, italics for the beginning and ending. No, quotations aren't necessary. If it's only one person speaking then it should be fine. With more the no quotation marks could get haywire.

    It's really up to you. There are countless of ways to present dialogue out there. Center it, italics, quotation, --, nothing, so if you decide to go unconventional you have many options
    "When in doubt, have a man come through a door with a gun in his hand." - Raymond Chandler

  4. #4
    Dan Simmons uses a unusual method of presenting dialogue in Black Hills (2010). Basically the name comes first, then a dash (I think), then the actual dialogue starts on the next paragraph.
    Modern Punctuation and Grammar: Tools not Rules is finally published and available for $3 Hidden Content . Should be mandatory for serious writers, IMO. Italics, Fragments, Disfluency, lists, etc. But also commas and paragraph length. Discussed use of adverbs, and ends with a chapters on the awesome moment and the grammar of action scenes. Description at my Hidden Content

  5. #5
    I like the concept a lot. I'd go with quotation marks, just because I don't know of a better approach. There's nothing wrong with experimenting a bit, but something that is great for a short time (like italics) may not be great for a longer piece.
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