Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Create More Interest By Using Dialogue In Nonfiction

In fiction, we don't think twice about using dialogue between our characters. It seems the natural thing to do. But what about nonfiction essays and stories? Especially cretive nonfiction which is a true story told using fiction techniques.Fiction techniques? It stands to reason ,then, that you'd make use of dialogue.

Those who have been successful with Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies learn over time that the publisher does not like present tense, that the word limit is 1200 and that they do like dialogue within the true story. Why do you suppose they especially appreciate stories that include dialogue? They don't spell it out in the guidelines, but notice the stories in the Chicken Soup books and how many do use dialogue. It appears to be one of those unwritten rules. Personally, I think it makes a better story and that's why the ones with dialogue often get selected.

It's realistic. It's showing rather than telling. It's easy to relate to. It's far more intertesting than just being told that something happened by the narrator. Consider the following:

A.  Dana stopped at the sand dune. She shaded her eyes with her hand when the sun glinted on something metal sticking out of the sand. She reached out, then brushed away the sand.  She pulled out two golden plates. She turned to show her father what she'd found.

B. Dana stopped at the sand dune. "Dad, look! There's something buried in the sand." She dropped to her knees and scooped the sand with her hands until she'd uncovered two golden plates. "We've found it, Dad! The storm last night must have partly uncoverd the plates. Othewise, we'd never have found the treasure." 

Mr. Barnsworth leaned over to examine the two plates, a frown on his face. "Not so fast, Dana. We're not sure this is what we've been looking for. It could be something entirely different." 

"But Dad, they look just like the drawings. See the pattern around the edge. It's the same!" She jumped to her feet and did a little dance holding one plate in each hand. "We're rich!"

Example B did uses more words but it was more interesting, wasn't it? You could see clearly what Dana and her father were doing but also what they were feeling by the dialogue used. You could relate to a father and daughter on a beach.

One word of caution--don't overuse the dialogue technique. Sprinkle it throughout your nonfiction story.

When you write creative nonfiction, include dialogue in the story to make it more alive and draw your reader in. You also might impress an editor at Chicken Soup for the Soul or a similar type of anthology.

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