February 26, 2010, Newsletter Issue #191: Burying your dialogue

Tip of the Week

Sometimes it´s better not to use quoted speech in a story. This is true if what a character is saying can easily be summarized by the narrator. This is what we call "burying" the dialogue. Alternating passages of buried speech with quoted speech often improves the scene´s rhythm. Here is an example of a line of speech we could easily bury, because its info can be summarized without sacrificing flavor: "The shopgirl put the bracelet into a paper bag and rang him up. ´I´ll just put your receipt in the bag.´ she said." We don´t need to "hear" the clerk say she´s going to put the receipt in the bag.

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Jerry Mayo