The Secrets Behind Buried Dialogue Part 1

Buried or hidden dialogue, both terms mean the same thing, but what is that exactly? Buried dialogue happens when you bury the dialogue between the narratives. The paragraph will look like this: narrative, dialogue, narrative. Still don’t know what I mean? Don’t worry. Some examples are coming up. Keep reading.

As a freelance editor, I can say very few unpublished writers realize what buried dialogue can do to their story, especially its pace, but this is something even published authors, including indie authors, should understand.

While buried dialogue isn’t a technical term nor is there a rule that says you can’t use it, editors often suggest you eliminate as much of it as possible. There are two basic reasons behind this.

1) Buried dialogue slows the pace.
2) Dialogue can lose its oomph when squished between two narratives.

Let’s look at some examples, so you can see what I mean.

Example 1:

With Buried Dialogue:

Toni opened the door. “What are you doing here?” She crossed her arms, determined to show him she meant business. “I told you to stay away.” Why was he there anyway? Didn’t he know what was good for him?

Without Buried Dialogue:

Toni opened the door.

“What are you doing here?” She crossed her arms, determined to show him she meant business. “I told you to stay away.”

Why was he there anyway? Didn’t he know what was good for him?

Example 2:

With Buried Dialogue:

Marnie wrapped a ringlet of her hair around her finger. Maybe she could convince him yet. “Surely, there must be something I could help you with.” She batted her eyelashes and puckered her lips. Swaying her hips, she circled around him. If there was one thing she knew about men, they couldn’t resist a good tease.

Without Buried Dialogue 1:

Marnie wrapped a ringlet of her hair around her finger. Maybe she could convince him yet. “Surely, there must be something I could help you with.”

She batted her eyelashes and puckered her lips. Swaying her hips, she circled around him. If there was one thing she knew about men, they couldn’t resist a good tease.

Without Buried Dialogue 2:

Marnie wrapped a ringlet of her hair around her finger. Maybe she could convince him yet.

“Surely, there must be something I could help you with.” She batted her eyelashes and puckered her lips. Swaying her hips, she circled around him. If there was one thing she knew about men, they couldn’t resist a good tease.

Notice the difference between the “with” and “without” buried dialogue examples. The dialogue is lost in the narration and doesn’t have the effect it could have on its own. Also, if you look at the last example, you’ll see there can be more than one way to fix buried

Come back Tuesday for The Secrets Behind Buried Dialogue Part 2, where we’ll look at the unofficial rules, so you’ll know how to avoid or correct this issue.

 

Do you ever use buried dialogue?

Lynnette Labelle
www.labelleseditorialservices.com

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