Have you ever thought about how you decide to buy a book? In my case, unless it is written by a friend or someone has told me I must read a book, I first look at the cover. If the cover has a good title and the cover art grabs me, then I look inside. If the flap jacket pitch sounds interesting, then I flip through the pages.
I look to see if the book has good margins, short paragraphs, and good amount of white space. Long blocky paragraphs exposition, narrative, and description make me think… SKIP!
Studies show that using white space is important because it helps make a book look friendly. And, it is dialogue that provides the eye candy for a reader. As a potential buyer flips through your book, rapid back-and-forth dialogue will make your book more appealing before the reader even reads a word.
So paying attention to dialogue when you revise it is worth the time and effort. I would start by flipping through the manuscript for places that look dense and circle them. Later go back to read and analyze. Ask yourself, “Can I use dialogue to breakup this long paragraph? Would dialogue work better here than what I have now?”
Here are ten things that dialogue can do to help keep your reader reading.
- Dialogue draws a reader into your story.
- Dialogue adds immediacy, picks up the pace, and makes your text easier and more fun to read.
- Dialogue can give the writer a more effective way to provide information about emotional states and inner thoughts.
- Dialogue can reveal motive, insight into a character without overt telling.
- Dialogue can help set the mood of the scene. Example: “This doesn’t feel right… It’s too quiet.”
- Dialogue can intensify the conflict. A confrontation conversation between adversaries can ramp up the tension and remind readers what’s at stake.
- Good Dialogue moves the story forward.
- Dialogue is a useful tool to provide information the reader must know without slowing down the pacing.
- Dialogue is good to use to get out critical bits of information, back-story, and background.
- Dialogue can even be use to suggest a theme.
Of course, dialogue is only one thing to work on while you revise, but the above list can help you can see the many things it can help improve in your novel.