Sunday, August 5, 2012

Deborah Halverson-How to Talk Like a Teen When You’re So Not One: Dialogue in YA/MG

Deborah Halverson was an editor for Harcourt Children's Books before becoming the award-winning author of Writing Young Adult Fiction for Dummies, two teen novels, a forthcoming picture book, and three books in an upcoming series.

Her breakout session focused on writing dialogue for teen and middle grade fiction. Deborah gave some great tips, including five techniques that help an author to sound like a teen, even though they are so not one.

Here are two of the techniques she touched on:

1. Blurt- Talk first, think second
2. Exaggerate

Deborah explained that dialogue must be able to entertain, comfort, and sound authentic. It’s more than having your characters gab. It plays three roles:

* Reveals things about characters and plot
* Pushes the plot forward
* Convincing like a real person

Deborah said there should be two understandings about dialogue:  

* Strong dialogue is realistic, but not real. Real speech is boring, with babbling and run on sentences.
She showed an example of real dialogue, and then stripped out the rambling bits to show how it should appear. Streamline it. 

* Strong dialogue is inseparable from the narrative that surrounds it. Dialogue makes readers feel closer to the character--especially with young adults. 

Deborah's breakout was really great because she gave us techniques to walk away with that we can apply in our own writing. 

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