Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Seven Dialogue Busters in Kid/YA Fiction

Last Saturday, I was honored to repeat a talk I gave on dialogue at the New England Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators Spring Conference. Jo Knowles, Cindy Faughnan, Karen Day, Mark Peter Hughes and I were invited to be part of Encore 2012, a one-day reprise of some of the workshops at the conference.

My job was to help us spruce up our dialogue, and I reviewed seven problems I see often in my own first drafts, giving examples of the opposite by reading aloud excerpts from some of my favorite books. Here's a summary of the "dialogue busters," as I call them (I promised I'd post them here on my blog), and writers who exemplify the better way:
  1. Annoying Ascriptions (Laura Ingalls Wilder's Farmer Boy). 
  2. Abounding Adverbs (Sherman Alexie's Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian).
  3. Badly-placed Beats. (Edward Eager's Half-Magic).
  4. Random Reactions (L.M. Montgomery's Jane of Lantern Hill).
  5. Pesky Pauses (Laurie Halse Anderson's Prom).
  6. Disturbing Dialect (Maud Hart Lovelace's Emily of Deep Valley).
  7. Irritating Information (Louisa May Alcott's Eight Cousins).
I left inspired by the other presenters and eager participants to dig into my own revision of Tiger Boy, coming in 2014 from Charlesbridge (revision due very, very soon).

P.S. For those who attended, here's my list of Kid/YA agents on twitter.

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