Saturday, December 1, 2012

Writing Dialogue by Patricia Gligor


Patricia Gligor is a Cincinnati native. She enjoys reading mystery/suspense novels, touring and photographing old houses and traveling, especially to the ocean. Mixed Messages, the first novel in her Malone Mystery Series, was published in April 2012 by Post Mortem Press. Unfinished Business is the second novel in the series.
 Welcome, Pat. Thanks for stopping by during the Mystery We Write Blog Tour to tell us about the fine art of writing dialogue.

As writers, we can convey so much about our characters and their relationships through dialogue. We can also use dialogue to move our story forward and/or to create suspense. And, it’s not just what our characters say but how they say it, including their facial expressions and body language. Consider the following examples, which are excerpts from Unfinished Business, the second novel in my Malone mystery series. Notice how the relationships of the characters are revealed.

In the first example, the main character, Ann, is conversing with her employer.

“Good morning, John,” Ann said. She suppressed a giggle. John’s glasses had slid almost to the end of his nose and looked in danger of falling off his face.

He looked up at her and his glasses fell back in place. “Morning.”

Ann hung up her coat, scarf and purse on one of the hooks that lined a wall of the office. “I finished the angel doll,” she said. “I need to add the finishing touches to the last two costumes today and then we should have everything ready for the pageant.”

“If there is a pageant,” he muttered. “Have you heard the weather report? They’re predicting a blizzard.”

“I hope they’re wrong. My sister and her boyfriend are coming up for Christmas.”

“Well, we can’t control the weather, now can we?” he snapped.

Notice the change in tone in this dialogue excerpt and what it reveals about the relationship.

“Have you heard the weather report?” he asked her. “It sounds like we’re in for a big one.”

“I know. I was just thinking that we probably should stock up on a few groceries. Would you mind running out to Kroger?”

Lawrence smiled at his mother. “That’s exactly why I came down. If you want to make a list, I’ll go right away.”

Olivia rolled over to her desk and got a pad of paper and a pen from the top drawer. She and her son went into the kitchen and, as he checked the cabinets and refrigerator to see what they already had, she scribbled the items they needed on the pad. When they were finished, she tore the sheet off and handed it up to him. “If you think of anything else I forgot . . . .”

“I know,” he said. “I will.” He laughed. “I see you didn’t forget to write down your chocolate yogurt ice cream.”

Olivia laughed too. “Well, that is a staple, you know.”

“You know, it’s funny, you’re so careful about what you eat, always buying organic fruits and vegetables whenever they’re available, not eating much red meat and never over-eating. That’s why I laugh when you say that your chocolate yogurt ice cream is a staple.”

“Lawrence,” she said, pointing a finger at him and grinning. “Only God is perfect. We mortals are allowed to indulge ourselves every once in a while. As vices go, I don’t think that’s too bad.”

“So how many gallons should I get?” he asked, smirking.

“Funny! Just one. No, better make that two. Bernie might want some too.”
Here's a blurb from the book:
The Westwood Strangler is dead. Or so everyone believes.

 Ann Kern is busy preparing for her favorite holiday. She’s especially looking forward to her sister’s annual Christmas visit. But, several things threaten to ruin her festive mood.

The National Weather Service issues a severe winter storm warning for the Cincinnati area, predicting blizzard conditions, and Ann worries that her sister and her new boyfriend won’t be able to make the drive from South Carolina.
Then, a woman is found strangled in Ann’s neighborhood and everyone, including the police, assumes it’s the work of a copycat killer. However, when two more women are murdered in their homes, the police announce their conviction that the Westwood Strangler is responsible.

When Ann hears the news, the sense of safety and security she’s worked so hard to recapture since her attack on Halloween night, shatters. If the intruder who died in her apartment wasn’t the Westwood Strangler, who is? And, who will be the next victim?

Thanks, Pat. To learn more about Patricia Gligor and her books, visit her blogsite:


At the end of the blog tour, I will be giving away one copy of Unfinished Business, the second novel in my Malone mystery series. Leave a comment and you’re automatically entered to win. Please include your email address with your comment so that, if your name is selected, I may contact you to get your mailing address. The winner will be announced on my blog: on December 11. Best of luck!


Anonymous said...

I usually do not comment, but after reading a few of the remarks here "Writing Dialogue by Patricia Gligor".
I actually do have 2 questions for you if it's okay. Could it be just me or does it give the impression like a few of these responses appear as if they are left by brain dead people? :-P And, if you are posting on additional sites, I'd like to follow you.
Would you list of the complete urls of all your social community
pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?
My web-site ...

Earl Staggs said...

Pat, I agree with you on the importance of dialogue and how it defines characters and relationships. From your excerpts, I'd say you have a good handle on it.

Patricia Gligor said...

Thanks for inviting me to be here today.

Patricia Gligor said...

Dear Anonymous,
Thank you for stopping by.
In answer to your question, some of the other sites I belong to are listed on my blog.
Happy Reading!

Patricia Gligor said...

Thanks! So much can be conveyed in just a few words of dialogue. It's a great way to move the story forward.

Jean Henry Mead said...

My pleasure, Pat. I enjoyed your take on dialogue, which is my favorite aspect of writing.

Patricia Gligor said...

"Mixed Messages," the first book in my Malone mystery series, begins with dialogue between Ann and her husband, David. Readers have told me that they were immediately pulled into the story and quickly got insight into the couple's relationship. Dialogue can serve so many purposes!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

One thing that I do often, is not use a regular dialogue tag, instead use whatever action the character is doing as a dialogue tag.

I did enjoy the book, Pat.

Patricia Gligor said...

Thanks, Marilyn. I'm glad you did!

M.M. Gornell said...

Liked your excerpts a lot, Patricia. Easy to follow and you pack a lot into a dialogue paragraph. Good writing, I think!!


Patricia Gligor said...

Madeline, I value your opinion so I very much appreciate your compliment. Thank you!

Collin Kelley said...

Enjoyed the excerpt.

WS Gager said...

Great take on dialogue. I enjoyed reading the excerpt.
W.S. Gager on Writing

marja said...

You keep the dialogue real, and you let the characters speak their moods, if that makes sense. I like the way you let your characters develop.
Marja McGraw