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Dynamic Dialogue Part III

Dear Readers,

Today I want to talk to you about my favorite awkward dialogue trap, friends. Can you guess what it might be, readers? No? Friends, I'll give you a clue. I've done it four times so far, readers.

Friends, (that makes six) I call it the dreaded name drop.



This is another common dialogue misstep that is easily fixed by my first rule, which, in case you don't remember, is:


Read your dialogue out loud!

If you read your dialogue, just your dialogue with none of the narrative, you may notice that many (and in some cases almost all) of your characters' first sentences begin with another character's name. Maybe you're doing this to help the reader keep track of who's talking and to whom. But in real life, we don't talk like that. Are you married, have a roommate, or someone you spend most of your time with? How often do you use that person's name (when you're not calling them to get their attention) in conversation? I'd venture not that often.

When you were a kid, did you ever sit in church snickering as you counted how many times one of the deacons would say the Lord's name during the closing prayer? (Don't admit it if you still do.)


Dear Father, I just thank you Lord, that you love us, God. I pray, Father, that you'd bless the gift and the giver for the betterment of thy kingdom.  Lord, as we leave this place, God, would you lead, guide, and direct us? And Father, put a hedge of protection around us. We love you, Lord. And it's in your Son's precious and holy name we pray, God, Amen.

Whew. I wish that were an exaggeration.  (Note: also in the above prayer, there were a whole lot of cliches and needless repetition. Other no-nos we'll cover in the coming weeks.)

Were you keeping count? It's distracting, no? And you don't want your readers distracted, snickering, or--heaven forbid--counting when they should be absorbed in what's happening on the page. (Just like you should have been paying attention to what was going on in that church service.)

It's our job as the author not to give our readers anything to be distracted by.

So, use those speaker beats and action tags, and even a simple attribution like Bethany talked about last week. And trust your reader to keep up. Don't be a name dropper.

Nobody likes a name dropper.