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Dialog vs Narrative

REP

I was recently contacted by a Troll, who I am ignoring, about my writing style. However, one of his remarks did remind me of a matter that I had been thinking about around nine months ago. This topic may have been addressed earlier, but is there a recommended balance in a story between Narrative and Dialog (i.e., 40% Narrative, 60% Dialog or some other ratio).

I personally lean toward Dialog, but find that Narrative instills more life into my stories.

Is there a general guideline for this or do we all just develop what works for us?

Ernest Bywater

@REP

Is there a general guideline for this or do we all just develop what works for us?


The short answer to the question is: Yes.

The balance is: whatever suits the story best. But watch out you don't got too heavy on one or the other. I try for a mix between 40% to 60% of either one, but it will vary with the type of story.

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@REP


Is there a general guideline for this or do we all just develop what works for us?


I don't think so. It depends on the story.

I tend to write a lot of dialogue in my first draft and then add narrative when editing. I think the narrative is important. I think a story should be mostly narrative (as in word count, not number of lines).

Want mostly dialogue? Write a screenplay.

Replies:   REP
REP

@Switch Blayde

Thanks Switch Blade, but a screenplay is not for me as I hate writing dialog.

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@REP

but a screenplay is not for me as I hate writing dialog


I didn't mean for you to write a screenplay. I was sort of saying how novel writing differs from screenplay writing.

Replies:   REP
Dominions Son

@REP

I don't think you can give on guideline for all story types.

A story with more action will require more narration.

REP

@Switch Blayde

I know. I was just being a smart ass.

Crumbly Writer

I've never actually counted how much narrative/dialogue I have, and frankly, short of counting every word of every sentence, I'm not sure how you would count them. 40%/60% or 60%/40% seems like a arbitrary divide.

Some authors are better with dialogue than others, and many books (like sci-fi or historical drama) require a lot more narrative to describe the physical world at the time of the story, so I can't imagine any hard and fast rules. However, I can imagine a readers accusing you of getting the mix wrong in his opinion, but it would just be that (i.e. he thinks you're telling to much, or you're not explaining enough about what's happening). In that case, I would consider what he has to suggest, though I doubt there are any hard and fast rules concerning it.

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