I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript. Yep, you can join in the fun, too. Let’s take a looksee at topic #6
6: Keep speeches short. Any speech of more than three sentences should be broken up. Force your character to do something. Make him take note of his surroundings. Ground the reader. Create a sense of place.
Ha! This made me think of the Total Transformation program. I like the “no speeches at all” rule better, but there are times when one of our characters tends to get chatty, right?
Always always always break up a long amount of dialog with action, setting, or emotion. Think of it. If you are listening to someone for a long time, you shift your weight, right? The speaker paces the floor, uses hand gestures. The curtains blow around a window. Tons of things are happening all around your speaker.
Don’t count on your reader to make these things up themselves. Show them. It will make your scene more real, and you won’t lose your reader and have them miss something important.
Oh, and while you’re at it… try to curb that speech down a little. Less is more, I always say!
Try it! Can you feel how much cleaner your speech reads just by adding a little action?
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