I thought this was an interesting article.
I admittedly find myself learning towards the more “realistic, but as a result a bit garbled” dialogue. I don’t like it when characters break into perfect speeches. It just seems fake to me. When writing, I read dialogue aloud, and I know how people talk. There are pauses, uh’s, tangents, etc., and it’s my natural inclination to try to capture all of that. I visualize my characters talking like in a sit-com or a movie, but in those the “uhs” are less distracting, and with voice infliction, small facial movements, etc., the actors can really add a lot to the delivery and timing of what they said.
However, I realize that when relying only on the written word, some realism must be sacrificed. I know I use ellipsis too often, and that it looks awkward when there are too many in a scene, so I’m trying to cut down on that. I’m trying to find new ways to indicate pauses. Perhaps using actions to end sentences or to replace them entirely. I just want to make sure whatever universe I write in is not entirely inhabited by incredibly articulate people. Not everyone forms perfectly timed and perfectly formed sentences when they talk.
Other tips in this article that I liked were using actions to punch up and break up dialogue during a conversation, as well as frequently avoiding adverbs to hopefully avoid overly antagonizing your readers as they excitedly skim from page to page. (Grab a Harry Potter book, any of them, and read two-three pages. Count the adverbs.)
I do hate using “said” after a sentence though. I don’t know why I hate it. I wonder if I used that technique even ten times in 170,000 words of CCH Part 1. Probably not.
How do others navigate the “realistic/authentic versus too realistic/jumbled” issue? Any tricks you’d like to share?