Friday, September 20, 2019

Dialogue Engages--But What If Your Memoir Characters Just Don't Talk Much?

Candace is writing a memoir.  Her characters are the opposite of talkative.  She took my online dialogue class earlier this year and learned that dialogue in any books brings more reader engagement.  But she was confused about how to bring her particular characters to life and still stay true to their silent natures.

I read other writers to answer these kinds of questions.  Kent Haruf wrote six novels set in the fictional town of Holt, Colorado.  All of them have quiet characters, but each is unique and fascinating.

For example:  Two elderly brothers take in a pregnant teenager in one of the novels.  The brothers know each other so well, from a lifetime of sharing their ranch, they don't need to communicate much with words.  Haruf makes them memorable nonetheless.  

Quiet characters can be quite appealing to readers.  If they really don't have anything to say on your pages, try some of the tools that Haruf uses:  gestures, facial expressions, gait, clothing, the way the character looks at the sky or land, the small movements of her hands, the quirks we all have.

These are the best ways I know to bring someone to life--if they really don't talk much.

Writers Helping Writers, a blog I visit when I can, posted a good article about this dilemma.  Here's the link.  

(If it doesn't work, go to and search for "quiet protagonists.") 

No comments:

Post a Comment