What’d You Jus’ Say Ta’ Me??


Writing dialogue can be fun. It’s like listening in on someone’s conversation. Like gossip, really. Who doesn’t enjoy some good gossip? However, there’s a fine line between coloring a character’s speech so it sounds natural, and making it difficult to read because there’s way too much flavor. Like over-salting some good food, huh? Why would I talk like this? every sentence a question, huh? Doesn’t make any sense, know what ah mean? gets a bit annoyin’, right?

Okay, now imagine three characters, all presumably from the same town, all talking the same way. Now every other word ends with a question mark, or has letters chopped off the end.  A light sprinkling is okay. It conveys the sense of the people, in this case Italian, judging by their names.

This is from a used book I picked up. I’m not going to tell you the name, I don’t like bashing books, and this isn’t a review. It had a lot of good reviews from places like publishers weekly, etc. I’d like to imagine those people know what they’re talking about, but then, places like that actually liked 50 Shades of Crap. (And for the record, no, I didn’t read that book. I downloaded the sample so my wife and I could have a good laugh at the horrible dialogue and writing. You should try it. It was fun. Quick sample: “grinned with a goofy smile on my face”. Huh?)

My main point, is that eventually, the dialogue gets really ridiculously hard to read. when you’re whole town is apparently Italian, and everyone’s doing the overused Hey? huh? yeah? know what I mean? somethin’, abou’, tryin’, talkin’ ’bout,  etc. I could go on and on. there’s a fine line when you cross over from coloring speech so that it sounds a certain way, and complete OVERUSE. Bashing my head against the wall is not an option, but I really want it to be.

Where is that fine line? Only you can answer that. I personally find that reading out loud to myself helps me find places in my dialogue that might sound stilted, or not as natural.

Feel free to let me know what you think, and If you liked 50 Shades, I’m sorry. But not about what I said. 😀


3 thoughts on “What’d You Jus’ Say Ta’ Me??

  1. I totally agree with this. I take a lot of pride in my dialogue prose. I think its my strongest asset. I love Mark Twain and his dialogue in Tom Sawyer, but at times it was near impossible to read. It really is a matter of taste of how much you use nutin’, and sumtin.’ I like the salt analogy. That’s dead on.

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