As authors we all know dialogue plays several roles in mystery novels—character exposition, speed up pace, imparting information and showing mood—to name a few. It is critical that this important writing tool does not become tedious and monotonous. Here are 4 ways to ensure dialogue is interesting, productive and easily readable.
• Use a verb other than said. Just be sure it is a verb that can speak. Characters can’t Shrug, blink, smile, nod, or sniff actual words.
Incorrect: “I have a cold,” John sniffed.
Correct: “I have a cold.” John sniffed.
• Use Action Sentences. Use them to refer to dialogue not as dialogue tags. They can come before or after the dialogue. Here are a couple of examples.
Action before dialogue: John sniffed and pulled out a handkerchief. “I have a cold.”
Action After dialogue: “I have a cold.” John sniffed and pulled out a handkerchief.
• Dialogue at the end of a sentence. Avoid beginning a sentence and adding a line of dialogue at the end. The result will be a run-on sentence.
Incorrect: John sniffed several times before he pulled out a handkerchief and spoke, “I have a cold.”
Correct: John sniffed several times before he pulled out a handkerchief and spoke. “I have a cold.”
Changing some of your dialogue tags to action tags provides a smoother flow to your writing and can add more information about your mystery plot, character and setting.