Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Of Dialogues, Drafts, Developments and Dictionaries

Let us look at the various Ds involved in the creation of a novel today.


Dialogues are an integral part of any novel and help to show rather than tell the story. Through the dialogues, the reader becomes a part of the conversations.

Dialogues can be used effectively to bring about twists in the story, drama, conflict and also hold the reader’s attention. It can be used to portray jokes, emotions and sometimes tell an entire story. 

What are the essentials of a good dialogue?

A dialogue never resembles the recording of an actual speech. It is just a semblance of speech, aiming to take the story forward in an interesting manner.

Dialogues serve their purpose when:
  • It introduces or increases the conflict in a story.It reveals the character of the speaker.
  • It piques the curiosity of the reader.Brings out details that increase the tension in the story.
  • The characters speak according to their status, upbringing, and location. A high-profile businessman, a homeless man, a teacher or a child would speak about similar things in entirely different manners.
  • Something should change in the story after the dialogues are exchanged because of the details revealed in them.
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Don’t we all remember this famous first proposal by Mr. Darcy to Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice written by Jane Austen? It reveals Darcy’s character as the pompous aristocrat who is struggling hard to reveal his true feelings to a lady of inferior birth with whom he has fallen in love totally against his own wishes and character. Unlike what he had expected, Elizabeth Bennet refuses to accept him and tells him all the reasons as to why she cannot accept him introducing further twists and conflicts in the novel.

The scene is made memorable by the dialogues alone. The entire scene is on fire owing to the dialogues.


The novel can be developed in many stages.

 There should be a discernable beginning, middle and an ending. You can divide the stories into multiple parts or acts. Each act can deal with a particular phase in the development of the story. Each act can begin with an inciting incident, introduce conflicts, portray interconnected scenes leading to some rising action, a climax, falling action and an ending. Every act following the ABDCE pattern.


Make use of the dictionary at all stages of writing your story to make your writing crisp and tight.
Synonyms can come in handy to avoid repetitions.

Example: Replace the word look with glance, gaze etc.

Weak verbs combined with adverbs can be replaced by stronger verbs.
Example: run fast can be replaced by dart.

But try to use common words always. We do not want the reader to reach for a dictionary multiple times while reading a single page. There is beauty in simplicity.


So, imagine you have completed the first draft of your novel! Congratulations. But no, you cannot rest now. The major work begins now.

When you finish putting down the story you had in mind on paper, it is called as the first draft and is often crude and unpolished. It will be filled with typos, grammar errors, irregular sentences and even many plot holes. So, the next step would be to work on it and improve it. For this, you have to now put on your editor’s cap, scrutinize it and look it through the eyes of a reader.

 Rename the file and save as a second draft before editing because it is always a good idea to retain the original first draft. You might be amazed by how many changes the drafts undergo. And even if you edit out entire paragraphs or scenes from it, these might come handy later in another book.

Once you complete multiple rounds of edits and corrections, renaming and saving the file as a different draft after each round, go over it again. When it is done, send it to your beta readers. Edit again if you want to incorporate some of their feedbacks. Keeping all the drafts together in one folder will help you re-examine the story line progress anytime.

When a publisher accepts your work, they will assign an editor to you who will make you go through all these stages yet again. This time though, they will do the majority of the work. It is after the book goes through N number of drafts, N number of edits, copy editing and proofreading that it finally gets published.

It is a long process, but the entire journey is beautiful.

During this A-Z April Challenge, I am exploring the A-Z journey of writing a Novel with examples from Literature.
The Letter of the day is D

Linking this post  to Blogging from A-Z

Have you read the Letters A and B and C ?


  1. Thank you for your thoughtful and concise advice.

  2. Hi Preethi, great tips on the four Ds. if i may ask, how long is the wait between drafts for you personally? thanks.

    1. It varies, Sudha Nair. Sometimes a few days and sometimes months. Mostly I wait a few months after the final draft is done before going through it again.

  3. Very good points preethi - how many drafts an author makes only that he can tell!
    Twinkling Tina Cooks
    Tina Basu

    1. True, Tina. I know people who do only a single draft. They edit and proofread it while they are writing it.

  4. Loving your series! So useful...I struggle with writing a good engaging dialogue.

  5. Awesome tips.
    Thanks for sharing.
    read mine