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Sunday, October 27

Sunday Writing Tip: Remove Unnecessary Dialogue from Your Scenes

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Each week, I’ll offer a tip you can take and apply to your manuscript to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript.

This week, look at the dialogue in your scenes and remove what’s not needed.


There’s often a lot of empty dialogue in scenes, especially the beginnings of them. Characters greet each other and make small talk before they get to the meat of their conversations. Most of the time, that small talk weakens the scene and hurts the pacing.

It’s also common to find characters saying too much in a scene and giving away all the mystery and/or tension. They’re too open about their feelings, or too self-aware about how they feel. They might also answer questions just because the plot needs them to, when being true to themselves and staying quiet makes for a stronger story.

As they say, less is more, and that’s particularly true with dialogue.

For more on cutting unnecessary dialogue in your novel, try these articles:

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