Don’t Let Dialogue Distract Your Readers

Ever since I started writing, I have a hard time just reading for pleasure. I think it’s because instead of reading for “fun”, I read for “craft”. I read to learn from other writers how they write. How they create characters, build conflict and tension, and bring all the pieces together for a satisfying ending.  

Since January, I’ve been attempting to read a romance novel by an author I’ve never read before and I’m enjoying the storyline, but there are two words she uses in the dialogue that keeps me from finishing the story.

B**ch and Jesus.

In the book, two girlfriends are talking and each one refers to each other as “b**ch”.  I know the author probably meant it as a term of endearment, and maybe I’m old fashioned, but if any of my friends called me the b-word in ANY kind of context, I would begin to doubt that they really cared about me. I think it’s a very demeaning way to refer to any woman, let alone a friend. So whenever I see this word in the dialogue, it immediately makes me put down the book.

As a Christian, I am equally perturbed by the use of “Jesus” in the dialogue. Primarily by the hero. Again, this is a word that is unnecessary. Perhaps the author is using it to gain some sort of “effect”. But all it makes me want to do is close the book. Forever.

I can honestly say that the reason I haven’t finished this book is because of the distracting words in the dialogue. I want to finish it. I really do. But alas, I think I never will.

The hero and heroine haven’t even kissed yet, let alone hopped into bed. I have no desire to skip ahead to see how those scenes play out between the two lovebirds. Since this is a romance, I know there will be a happy ending.

But somehow, I still feel cheated.

So the craft lesson I learned with this particular book was this:

  • Dialogue should move the story and the reader along.
  • It should keep the action going, not detract from it.  
  • Avoid slang and other terms that could offend your readers.

Sure, you have every right to write whatever words you want to, but just know that there may be a price to pay. Because it hardly matters if you are a NY Times Bestselling Author, selling eBooks on Amazon, or just new to the publishing business, what counts in the end is the repeat buyer. Those who buy and like one of your books, then buy another, and another, and so on.

This particular book cost me $5.99 at Target. But the lesson is priceless.

What are some of your biggest dialogue pet peeves?

MLUV:) Be Blessed!



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