Character Dialogue and the Introvert

I’m an introvert. Plain and simple. I don’t talk a lot, and only when I’m either spoken to first, or I have something very important/pressing that I must ask or say. Otherwise, I usually fade into the background and observe. Put me in front of a typing program and that all changes. In books, I love dialogue.

I personally think dialogue and action (such as she said, smiling ruefully at his dumbfounded expression or he commented, swinging up on his stallion) is a much more effective way to tell a story than long paragraphs full of description and back story. Don’t get me wrong, we need back story and we need description. But oftentimes those things are easier to absorb and picture when slipped in rather than just rambled on about for three pages.

Dialogue also follows that old, “show not tell” idea that gets hammered into a writer’s brain. The character’s deeds and words are a much better way to get a feel for a character’s personality and for the reader to understand and bond with them.

Because I put so much stock in the value of dialogue I use a lot. I’d wager a good 75-80% of my first book and 80%+ of the other books I’ve written are filled dialogue and action. Sure  from time to time I have several paragraphs full of back story or description, but for the most part, I rely on dialogue to tell the story.  You might think this is hard for a person who doesn’t usually talk, but it’s not. That’s where being an introvert is actually helpful.

Just because I’m quiet doesn’t mean I’m not thinking of the conversation and what I might say if that sentence had been directed at me. Writing dialogue is the same way. It’s basically a conversation in your head taking place between two or more characters you’ve created. I sometimes write things in character dialogue I’d never dream of saying in person, but I can get away with it because it fits that specific character’s personality. That’s the fun of writing a book with unusual or spunky characters, they allow someone like me, an introvert, to finally put voice to what goes on in the privacy of the writer’s head. It’s almost freeing in a way!

On the topic of who really knows what’s going on in the writer’s head, I’ll end with this. After I finally got up the nerve to blurt to my parents that I write historical romance novels and they read some, my dad made a comment along the lines of, “I had no idea so much went on in that head of hers.”

Have a good weekend everyone, Liberty for Paul comes out Monday, and remember never underestimate the introvert!

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