Friday, October 31, 2014

Writing Authentic Dialogue... For the Age and Gender You Aren’t by Sally Bradley

Sally Bradley

Do you struggle when it comes to writing dialogue? How often have you discovered that popular or fad words were no longer “cool” before you even understood their meanings? There’s help for you! Author Sally Bradley offers encouragement and tips on making dialogue fit your contemporary characters. Enjoy! ~ Dawn

Writing Authentic Dialogue... For the Age and Gender You Aren’t

We live in a time when it’s easier than ever to do research. The internet can enlighten us on just about anything. YouTube helps us explore any place we want. And TV and social media helps us perfect our dialogue.

Oh, yes. It’s never been easier than now to get dialogue exactly right.

The old adage is to write what you know, but let’s face it—our books will have characters of the opposite sex and people younger or older than us. How on earth are we supposed to get that right?

One of the nicest compliments Kept, my debut novel, has received is that the dialogue really rings true. Even the men. Now, yes, this is typically coming from a woman reader, but still! I worked hard on this because I knew I didn’t “get” men. I had no brothers, no cousins nearby to educate me. So when it came time to create these fictional males, I did my research.

Social media provides an excellent opportunity to capture how people your character’s age talk. I’m not talking about stalking, but listening. Twitter, in particular, I found helpful for capturing a male sense of humor and their concise way of speaking since so few characters are allowed. When I came across Facebook updates or tweets that sounded like one of my characters, I paid attention to that person.

Same with television. While a lot of reality TV shows are anything but reality, there are definitely some documentary-style shows that can help you capture age and regional speech.

My book’s hero and a key secondary character were in their late twenties, about (mumble, mumble) years younger than me. What I would naturally have them say would make them seem older than they were. So when I came across a documentary with guys their age, I wrote down the unique phrases and words they said. Same with social media. And over time a few select words and phrases repeatedly popped up.

The danger here is, of course, that we date our books. So I weeded out any language that seemed more like a fad. The rest of the words I sprinkled throughout the book. Not a lot; just a little to flavor the characters and make them seem more authentic. And it seems to have worked.

The good news? That time you spend on Facebook and Twitter is now doing double duty for you. Pay attention to what’s said—and how it’s said. Write down the words that jump out at you. And see if your characters don’t take on a deeper life of their own.

"Gutsy and fast-paced."—Laura Frantz, author of Love's Reckoning

Life has taught Miska Tomlinson that there are no honorable men. Her womanizing brothers, her absentee father, and Mark, the married baseball player who claims to love her—all have proven undependable. But Miska has life under control. She runs her editing business from her luxury condo, stays fit with daily jogs along Chicago's lakefront, and in her free time blogs anonymously about life as a kept woman.

Enter new neighbor Dillan Foster. Between his unexpected friendship and her father's sudden reappearance, Miska loses control of her orderly life. Her relationship with Mark deteriorates, and Miska can't help comparing him to Dillan. His religious views are so foreign, yet the way he treats her is something she's longed for. But Dillan discovers exactly who she is and what she has done. Too late she finds herself longing for a man who is determined to never look her way again.

When her blog receives unexpected national press, Miska realizes that her anonymity was an illusion. Caught in a scandal about to break across the nation, Miska wonders if the God Dillan talks about would bother with a woman like her—a woman who's gone too far and done too much.

Sally Bradley writes big-city fiction with real issues and real hope. A Chicagoan since age five, she now lives in the Kansas City area with her family, but they still get back to Chicago once in a while for important things—like good pizza and a White Sox game. Fiction has been her passion since childhood, and she’s thrilled now to be writing books that not only entertain, but point back to Christ. A freelance fiction editor, you can find Sally at and on Facebook at Sally Bradley, Writer. Kept is available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.