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Dialogue vs. Action

January 21, 2012

As of late, I have found my writing consisting of more and more dialogue. In my first novel, A Broken World, I tried to fit action into every chapter in order to make the story move at a quick and enjoyable pace. Now that I am working on my next novel, Discordant Tones, I am slowly easing away from all of this action and adding increasing amounts of dialogue.

This leads me to the following questions:

Can dialogue be considered action?

How do dialogue and action compare in terms of reader appeal and impact on the pace of the story?

At its most basic, dialogue is action. The characters are speaking to one another, which means this is not time and words spent solely on narration by the author. However, this is not the kind of action that gets readers’ hearts beating in anticipation and excitement. Does this mean that it is inferior to the more engaging action? Dialogue is definitely important in its own right. At times it drives the story and frequently offers insight into the minds of the characters. Despite this, it is hard to say whether readers appreciate dialogue to the same extent as exhilarating action. To some, a large amount of dialogue may make it seem like a story is hardly progressing at all. If characters spend all their time talking, they are likely not doing anything to advance the plot in a meaningful way. This is why dialogue should be designed to incorporate plot elements. Stagnant dialogue is not helpful to a story except perhaps to reveal background information or to develop a character. Active dialogue, on the other hand, can do all of that while continuing to push a story onwards.

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One Comment
  1. I always have difficulty with character and dialogue. Every now and then I’ll create a dynamic character that really carries the story along.

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