It’s interesting just how subjective the craft of writing is.
In elementary school we’re taught that adjectives and adverbs are our friends and that using descriptive words like, shouted, wailed, screeched, and cried are great ways to expand our dialogue tags.
In high school, we learn to take apart other people’s writing and work toward infusing our own stories with similes and metaphors, layering on literary devices to show how adept we are.
In post secondary, we do a lot of essay writing and this has the potential to strip away our efforts to “show” instead of “tell”.
Finally, when we’re out of school (mostly, who really ever stops learning?), and we’re attending writing workshops, taking writing certificates online, following writers’ coach blogs and vlogs, and getting feedback from an editor who actually works in the industry…
…we’re told that everything we learned in school was rubbish, and that it’s time to start from scratch:
Show more than Tell
Only say “said” in a dialogue tag
Don’t use adverbs
Be sparse with your adjectives
Induce the 5 senses but avoid purple prose
… the list goes on.
So, today, I have a carefully crafted list that looks at the best practices of Dialogue. This list is intended for genre fiction (because, yes, if you write literary fiction the above points are practically written in stone) from YA to Adult.
I hope you find it helpful as you navigate your self-editing and critique others in your writers’ groups.