Generatinghype's Workshop: Results

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06 January 2008


A word from Writers-Workshop...

Another successful workshop! This was one which was not only was fun to participate in, but also one which educated our members (and admins) in the conventions of good dialogue in prose. Some well-written pieces and also some great pieces to write about! There were some excellent critiques provided, and our members clearly thought about the things they had learnt from GeneratingHype's introduction and polls.

GeneratingHype has used some of the deviations from this workshop to create a great resources document on dialogue that you should all read. With the help of the lovely EveningDownpour, this is now available to view at WordCount.

Punctuating Dialogue: A Guide by WordCount

In honesty- there was no stand out person for critique this workshop- simply because so many of you were brilliant in giving it. Critique has recently been something many members of the literature community have been discussing, because it is so valuable to the writer. We want to thank everyone who gave feedback to these entries, even more so to those who didn't submit this time.

We understand that it does take a lot of time to read someone's work, and not just read it but then tell the writer what you thought and writing up your thoughts alone on one piece can take a lot of time. You don't get paid to respond, you don't even have any obligation to- so we appreciate your commitment to these entries, and it makes our workshop much more valuable. We have already seen some people progress with these workshops, and some excellent improvements in their writing. Without the comments they received to help them learn what they need to focus on, they wouldn't have that surge of improvement. Remember to treat your comments like a gift. Thank you to all :heart:

We were extra lucky with this workshop to have someone who edits for a profession. We are even luckier and very grateful because our workshop host has been very unwell recently and yet he still took the time to critique peoples work with some fantastic insight for improvement. Thank you :devegeneratinghype:.

:icongeneratinghype:
GeneratingHype's response:

The two pieces I chose to highlight for this Workshop are Happy Smoog by TheLightsWentOutIn99 and Can You Hear Me? by illuminara.


:star: In Happy Smoog, the writer does something that I feel compelled to thank him for: he treats a child character like a human being.  So many times young and growing writers think that, in order to portray a child—especially in dialogue—one must give that child annoying or exaggerated habits such as crazy dialect or annoying speech patterns.  TheLightsWentOutIn99 avoids all of that, and happily so!  A child is characterized in the same way an adult is: by that child's physical and mental (etc.) attributes.  Indeed, some children are very young and pronounce words in odd ways; indeed, some children have a lisp (or even some adults) or speak in shot, choppy sentences or long, ramblings ones that hardly make sense.  However, one of the best bits of advice I've ever received about writing dialogue went a little like this:

Good dialogue is not identical to real speech, but it should read that way.

Now, what does this mean?  Well, it's simple, really.  You do not want to annoy your writer by including all those silly words like "uh" and "um" and "well" and "like" unless you are doing so infrequently and with direct purpose.  Most people do pause many times while they are speaking, and they do pronounce words incorrectly, and they do use "um" and "like" a lot; however, as annoying as those things are to listen to over and over again, they are ten times more annoying to read.  Good characterization does not mean that you have to beat the reader over the head with "Wook, Mommy!  Santa Cwaus!"  If the reader understands that this is a child, the reader has probably given that child a voice and, in doing so, can apply the tone you're intending without you making the kid sound like s/he has a speech impediment.  This goes for adults, too, by the way.

More than that, children are immature and young, but they are not unintelligent.  Indeed, many children are rather bright and insightful.  Writing a child as if s/he is a three year old moron because you don't remember what it was like to be eight years old—or writing an eight year old like a sixteen year old or thirty year old because you are afraid to "dumb him down" too much, will get you into trouble.  If you know your character well, and know where he is on the maturity scale and how his mind works in a daily basis, then simply write to that character.  You will find that, in many cases, the age is accurate in the dialogue (but for a few small things you can clean up with good editing and revision), simply because you understood who was speaking and why.

:star:And that brings us to our second feature by illuminara, Can You Hear Me?  I really liked this piece, not because the writing was perfect, but because the characters were believable.  One of my biggest complaints when assessing dialogue—and one of the hardest things to accomplish—is making dialogue realistic and believable (in context).  illuminara really accomplishes this.  Her characters are teenagers who sound like teenagers, not because they are speaking in slang and dialect or using incorrect English or tons of curse words, but because what they are saying and the patterns of speech she represents through her punctuation are true-to-life.  There is nothing forced here—not vocabulary tricks or overindulgent tactics to bang "these are teenagers!" over the reader's head.  It's just a conversation between friends that, in many ways, tells a story all on its own.  Honestly, I was impressed that illuminara was able to portray two teenagers without going the "poor language skills" or "foul language" root.  More people should learn from this example!

Finally...

:bulletred: Get ready for whole new workshop starting tomorrow! We have a fantastic poetry exercise hosted by TheHungerArtist which is going to be a fantastic challenge for everyone!

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CrimsonThrenody's avatar
I have always found Dialogue to be tricky, but have not purposely avoided it because of my fear of it. It takes practice and critique to perfect, but also understanding your characters and the genre you are writing.