The Marriage Pact (2011), Regrets Only (2012), and Baggage Check (2013)
Dialogue is one of the most important aspects of any piece of quality fiction. Getting two people talking (or occasionally, carefully, more than two) is one of the quickest ways to get out of the head of the author or narrator and into the heart of the story. Dialogue commands attention, reveals character, moves the plot along, inspires emotion, and breaks up blocks of narrative to hold the reader’s attention. To keep the reader transfixed, dialogue must be believable. Here are some of my favorite ways to make sure my dialogue is a seamless bridge between the reader and the character.
1. Avoid long speeches. In real life, most people don’t make speeches unless they are standing at a podium. To get the reader through more than two or three sentences of uninterrupted dialogue, the writer has to have a large buildup of emotional investment and the scene must earn every sentence uttered with emotional payoff for the reader. You had us at ‘hello,’ Mr. Maguire.
2. Understand language and dialect. If you’re writing about a college student who lives in the American Northwest, for example, you may wish to avoid using the dialect of a British housewife in her forties. Often writers make these mistakes out of ignorance: they don’t understand the language of a particular area, or their ear for dialect is not well-honed as they think. If you’re writing a dialect, nationality or region with which you are not intimately familiar, do tons of research, and then have someone who is familiar help you edit.
3. Use words your character knows. Even if you play it safe and write only in your native dialect, it’s critical that you think of a character’s background, personality and education when you select their words. A sassy hairdresser in a rural area will talk differently than someone with a college education in a big city. A new graduate of the police academy uses words differently than a veteran homicide detective. Very few of your characters will talk like someone with an English degree and a desire to impress others with their diction (ahem, that would be you and me). Of course there are exceptions, but they must fit with the character you’re creating.
4. Keep it simple. Tips #2 and #3 notwithstanding, most people use language that is fairly simple and direct. The more odd, colorful or complex your characters’ dialogue is, the more the reader’s attention will be on the words, not the story. Use unusual words and phrases sparingly and intentionally in your dialogue.
5. Read out loud. Reading your work out loud can have tremendous benefits of all kinds, but dialogue is a major one. What sounds awkward coming out of your mouth will read awkwardly on the page. Have someone you trust role-play your conversations with you, just like a screenplay, to see what kind of impact they will have on the reader.
Meet The Author:
M.J. (Manda) Pullen studied English Literature and Business at the University of Georgia in Athens, and later Professional Counseling at Georgia State University in Atlanta. She practiced psychotherapy for five years before taking time off for writing and raising her two young boys. Since high school, she has also been an executive assistant, cashier, telemarketer, professional fundraiser, marketing guru, magazine writer, grant-writer, waitress, box-packer, HR person, and casual drifter.
She reads and writes across many genres, and learns something from everything she does. No matter what she’s writing, M.J. believes that love is the greatest adventure there is, and that hopeless romantics are never really hopeless.
She loves to hear from readers and other writers – so drop her a line!
The Marriage Pact by MJ Pullen
Book 1 of The Marriage Pact series
Genre: Contemporary Romance
About The Marriage Pact:
Marci Thompson always knew what life would be like by her 30th birthday. A large but cozy suburban home shared with a charming husband and two brilliant children. A celebrated career as an established writer, complete with wall-to-wall mahogany shelves and a summer book tour. A life full of adventure with her friends and family by her side.Source: Info in the About The Marriage Pact was from the press kit from the publicity team.
Instead, Marci lives alone in 480 square feet of converted motel space next to a punk rock band, hundreds of miles from her friends and family. She works in a temporary accounting assignment that has somehow stretched from two weeks into nine months. And the only bright spot in her life, not to mention the only sex she’s had in two years, is an illicit affair with her married boss, Doug. Thirty is not at all what it is cracked up to be.
Then the reappearance of a cocktail napkin she hasn’t seen in a decade opens a long-forgotten door, and Marci’s life gets complicated, fast. The lines between right and wrong, fantasy and reality, heartache and happiness are all about to get very blurry, as Marci faces the most difficult choices of her life.
Regrets Only by MJ Pullen
Book 2 of The Marriage Pact series
Genre: Contemporary Romance
About Regrets Only:
At thirty-three, Suzanne Hamilton has it all. A successful party-planning business with an elite client list. A swank condo in a hot Atlanta neighborhood and a close group of friends – especially her longtime best friend Marci. A list of men a mile long who have tried to win her heart and failed. Plus, she’s just landed the event that will take her career and social status to the next level. What could she possibly have to regret?Source: Info in the About Regrets Only was from the press kit from the publicity team.
Then a freak accident changes everything, and Suzanne discovers that her near-perfect life is just a few steps away from total disaster. She is humiliated and at risk of losing it all… except the surprising support of her newest celebrity client. With nothing else to go on, Suzanne follows him into an unexpected job and unfamiliar territory. Soon she will question everything – her career, her past, her friendships, and even her own dating rules.
But when her catalog of past relationships turns into a list of criminal suspects, she is faced with the horrifying possibility that she may not live to regret any of it…
Baggage Check by MJ Pullen
Book 3 of The Marriage Pact series
Genre: Contemporary Romance
About Baggage Check:
At thirty-five, Rebecca Williamson is surrounded by happy endings. Her friends Suzanne and Marci are living out their own personal fairy tales in Atlanta, Georgia. But despite Rebecca’s best efforts four years ago, her adorable college friend Jake Stillwell has officially slipped through her fingers and broken her heart. Even though her job as a flight attendant fits perfectly with her orderly nature, and brings her into contact with lots of eligible men, she can’t seem to find a man who is Jake’s equal.Source: Info in the About Baggage Check was from the press kit from the publicity team.
Then a frantic phone call from her mother in Oreville, Alabama turns Rebecca’s structured life on its ear. She will find herself back in the tiny town she worked so hard to leave behind, and thrown together with Deputy Alex Chen, a face from the past who’s made it clear he thinks of Rebecca as more than just an old friend’s kid sister.
But Alex is nothing like what Rebecca had in mind; and in the meantime, she has other battles to fight, including her painful family history. Can she navigate the chaos and get her life back to normal? Will Alex prove himself to be the friend she's always needed? Or will she discover that the door to Jake is not as tightly closed as she thought?
One set of autographed paperback copies of the Marriage Pact trilogy (winner can choose a custom inscription for the first book). US Only, Ebook International.