Dialogue Versus Text Block (Descriptive Text) in Fiction Writing

I’m working on yet another a novel right now. The working title is: Accepting Aimee. I might change that later, but it’s the one that’s stuck for now. This novel is written in first person, narrative POV (point of view) and it’s written as though AiUntitledmee, the main character, is having a chat with the reader. It’s not quite the same as a narrative, but actually like Aimee is talking to the reader.

Now, there are also first person narratives, where the first person is telling the story, but doesn’t ‘break the fourth wall’ and speak directly to the reader.

In either of these instances, you’re going to get away with a lot of grammar faux pas than you would writing in first person limited, third person, or just about any other POV or person there is. Why? Because in this type of POV, the character is ‘talking’ in the text block and therefore, you can use colloquialisms, conversational style writing, etc.

I didn’t used to like writing in first person. I always felt it limited me in being able to tell a believable story where I could show the reader things the characters couldn’t see.

In Accepting Aimee, though, I have a unique way of doing this. The character is essentially sitting on her bed telling us, the reader, about something in her past. Therefore, she already knows what’s happened, even though we don’t yet, so when she retells the story to us, she can give us those little clues and hints (foreshadowing) that we won’t normally get with first person limited narrative POV.

I’m enjoying the writing… this is a good book, and I’m very excited about it. Though I have another manuscript finished, I’m debating waiting on shopping it around because I believe so strongly in this book being my breakout novel that I’m almost afraid to submit anything before, lest the universe say, “Nope, I said Accepting Aimee!

The Universe can be quite demanding sometimes.

Anyway, the whole point of this is to make sure you guys understand when writing a novel, the descriptive part of the text and the dialogue are two different things. The descriptive text, the text block of the writing, should be more formal, adhere to grammar and style guidelines, and shouldn’t use colloquialisms, cliches and the like.

In the dialogue, however, anything goes, as long as it’s to make the character seem real, believable and whole to the reader. Slang and other colorful language might be essential to one character while proper and prim English is essential to another. None of us talk the same, and different regions and dialects speak differently too. If you’re from the South and haven’t traveled much, you might want to make sure your Southerness isn’t showing through in a character who is supposed to be from New York.

Of course, you should make sure your Southerness isn’t showing through in the text block of the descriptive text either! Ya’ll has its place, and a New Yorker probably won’t say it quite like a Texan would!

Be true to your characters, but be careful once you’ve selected your POV – stick with it, watch POV shifts that shouldn’t happen, and keep your descriptive text proper while your dialgoue is casual.

If you’ll excuse me, it’s time for a bathroom break, take my meds, and then git to writin’

Love and stuff,

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