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“How could you propose to me with my wedding ring in a pizza box?” Charlotte screamed at Charles.
“I just thought it was reminiscent of our first date when we had take out with pepperoni.”
“That is not my point!” she snarled at him.
“How could you?”
“The pepperoni was clean!”
“Not my point,” she snarled.
Okay. Every writer handles dialogue differently but there are advantages to using fewer words. The pace is faster, you can save your word count for something else, and it can evoke questions in the reader’s mind. But how to get there?
Reduce dialogue tags. Dialogue tags are rarely needed when there are only two speakers – especially when they have different voices.
Reduce action tags. Action tags get boring quickly – especially when they do not add to the plot. And they distract from the main action (the dialogue).
Reduce description. Description typically slows the pace of the passage and lowers the feeling of tension (these can be good reasons to use more description, too). Further, by slowing the action, the passage becomes less dramatic.
Word choice. Go with words that the average reader knows. This means typically avoiding long words and foreign words. If the reader has to pick up a dictionary, it means she must first put down your book. Also, use of strong dialect can slow the reader down and lessen interest and/or involvement.
Multitask. Dialogue is my favorite way of stating the theme of a work. It is also a great way to show character and mood.