How to reduce the amount of dialogue?

Hello, me again…Ha ha…
Could I have some tips on reducing the amount of dialogue please?

Someone commented that a few of my chapters were dialogue heavy and that was a big sin…or something.
Sorry for being such a pain recently.

Why is too much dialogue a sin? Hills Like White Elephants is one of my favorite short stories and it’s 90 percent dialogue.

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According to this person it is. She/he reckons that it’s only there to make way for the next chapter…or something.

Oh, I really don’t know anymore…

I’ve never heard about too much dialogue. I suppose I’m the opposite. I only speckle it through periodically LOL. Although I suppose a good answer to your question would be, if it doesn’t move things along/forward, axe it and of course, forgo the “hi/how are you’s” and other basic things that the reader doesn’t need.

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If they didn’t give a specific reason why the amount of dialogue doesn’t work in the given chapter, then they’re just an idiot and you can move on. I’ve read entire stories with no narration and loved them, I’ve written entire stories with no narration and thought they turned out pretty well. In a novel, I try to write with a cadence where I switch between heavy narration, heavy dialogue, and balance between the two. If you always keep it fifty/fifty, the writing becomes stale and predictable.

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Well it does move along.
I know I’ve probably been through this before and I feel like I’m going in circles.

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I’m probably worrying over one commenter.

In my first book, everything just seems to be wrong. There are no comments with just praise. It’s grammar, and if it isn’t grammar, its something else…

I’m genuinley trying here…

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I’m sure, then, you’ve been told this, but I’ll reinstate it for you. You can’t please everyone. Please don’t get hung up on one “bad” review. :slight_smile: Write for you. If you like it, keep it. Everyone has their own style and if yours is dialogue-y, then so be it!

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Okay.
I just want my book to be good, I guess.

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I cut the dialogue if I can summarize the action better in a few short sentences to help the story progress naturally. Ex. instead of giving a line by line shot of two characters arguing before they arrive at the next scene. I might say something like “Joe rubbed his temple. Hank and Tim had been arguing ever since they like Spring Hollow.” or “Lacie quickly explained how they had escaped from the castle”.

Brain-power wise it help if you aren’t sure what the characters should say.

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Depends, if the story fails to completely be visualized, then there are steps around it. In between the dialogues, you can add in descriptions that flows along into the story. To build the surrounding area, express tone, give a better grasp of the setting, build intensity, etc.

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I don’t think it’s necessarily bad, I think the amount of dialogue depends on the story. I’ve read scenes that are mostly dialogue and the editor in me wanted to cut a good chunk of it because it wasn’t needed. I’ve also written scenes that the only way I could convey the emotion I needed for the scene was pure dialogue.

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i like dialogue to move the plot forward personally :woman_shrugging:

Don’t worry about the commentators. Take their insight with a grain of salt. If you reread the section and think “yeah, that makes sense to do that change” then change it. If not, don’t.

In my first story, I had people asking me to essentially write a prologue to give them all the world-building facts in one dose. I didn’t want to do that. Like a good TV series, I want my readers to stick around for stories 5 and 6 to answer questions from earlier stories that I’ve purposely left open-ended.

I guess there are people on here that talk shit, like there are anywhere.

Bit like that news reporter who asked a tennis player how he was planning on winning the match and he said,
“With a racket.” And laughed.

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Exactly! One of my friends told me that some people lose sight of what makes a story good because they focus too much of their time on editing it to be “by the book”. If you like your work and it’s getting good reviews, take it for the win and keep moving forward.

There are dialogue mistakes called Talking-head and White-room syndrome. The reviewer either 1) had very little description outside of dialogue that gave the reader a sense of setting or where the characters actually are or being in “a white room,” or 2) you had Talking-heads which is when you fire off dialogue after dialogue with no description and no indication of who said what.

If you see that in your story, that’s probably what the reviewer was talking about.

I should also mention, you shouldn’t be reducing the amount of dialogue. You should be putting more narration in between it.

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Heavy dialog is not a sin. It’s their sin. If one person provides a critique, don’t change the book to fit their image unless you feel confident they’re right. If multiple people point out the same issue, that’s when you take a closer look.

All my books are very dialog heavy because that’s my greatest writing strength. No one has ever told me to cut it down.

I honestly think you just got a reader who prefers description over action, which I have seen a few times in the threads. They gave you feedback based on their own personal preferences, not a critique.

You cannot please everyone. It isn’t possible.

Now, their issue may not be with the dialog, but with the lack of description surrounding it. If it’s:

“There’s way to much dialog in this chapter,” she said.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because,” she continued, “I can’t visualize anything.”

“That isn’t because there’s too much dialog,” he pointed out, “it’s because there’s too little of everything else.”

Now,

She tied her hair back into a loose bun and her eyes stared down at the words in front of her, tapping her pen against the mahogany desk. “I get what you’re saying.”

“There was no description, which is why the dialog felt overbearing,” he finished for her as he sat in the chair on the other side of the desk.

Can break up the dialog. It isn’t getting rid of any dialog, but adding depth to the scene so it doesn’t feel like an empty back and forth conversation. By providing the actions, you can limit dialog tags, show emotion, and increase visual.

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There’s two answers for this.

For one, it can just be their own personal opinion. Some people can find it heavy dialogue, whether or not it actually is, but it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with your story. It just means that they prefer it to have less dialogue and more description or that they prefer to have a balance. One person’s opinion doesn’t mean you need to change it to meet their standards. If you don’t agree with what they say, dismiss their advice or their comment. However, if more people are saying the same thing, then take it into consideration.

And secondly, there is such a thing as “too much dialogue” and that’s when you’re writing irrelevant pieces of conversation that doesn’t move the story forward. Everything you write in your story has to serve a purpose to either character development or story development. If your characters are talking about the school dance in detail, but you aren’t going to have them go to the dance because they aren’t interested, then you don’t really need to utilize an entire scene for that conversation. You can keep it to a small section, but otherwise, if it doesn’t do anything for the story, then cut it out.

As a bonus answer, they may also be talking about not having enough descriptions after or before your dialogue scenes. If all you have are small sections like:

“Hi,” said Mary.

“Hey. How are you?”

“Good, you?”

…then what you’re doing is lacking descriptions.