Description and dialogue, how much is too much?

09/02/2009 at 5:02 am Leave a comment

Lord of the rings, the movies were awesome. The books were terrible. Before you send out a lynch mob, hear me out. The movie managed to capture emotions, the grandness and the beauty without messing it up with too much dialogue and over sharing. The book was long winded and over descriptive.

Yes, he was creating a new world, but did we really have to have it in so much detail? I believe that dialogue and description should only ever be used to drive the plot forward or to tell us more about the character or a new environment. Give me a brief sketch of the place, it’s a warehouse with wooden beams running across the ceiling.

Set the mood by telling me that the light is interrupted by the ceiling fans. Tell me about the stale smell of fried foods and the crates piled on the far corner. That is enough to set the mood and to establish where we are. Most importantly, make it interesting and keep it simple. Readers want to connect with your work. Using high brow language makes you seem like a smarty pants. Yes, there is an argument for those few people who like to read the complicated pretentious stuff, but Paper Movie Books are for the average Joe who wants to be entertained. That’s what we do. Entertainment.

The dialogue is there to reveal things about the characters, not the plot. This is important, don’t have your character say, “Oh, no. There is a bomb.” Rather describe the bomb and describe his reaction. Then have him say something that relates to his character, like, “My father always said I should watch out for brunettes.” Much more entertaining. The Lord of the rings books waffled on for hours about things we didn’t need. It used complicated language. Tolkien had way too much time on his hands and even developed a language. Seriously, most readers don’t care. And yes, the books have a huge, cult like following and yes people love them, they have an awesome original story, so I am not knocking them entirely, just the way they are written.


Entry filed under: Writing. Tags: , , , .

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