Dialogue from the point of view of Valerie Gilbert, narrator, musician, actress and mystic–a gifted individual.

valerie 1

Valerie Gilbert is the author of four books on personal growth, magic and mysticism, Raving Violet, Memories, Dreams & Deflections, Swami Soup, and Brilliance Brewing and the narrator of 127 audiobooks on Audible. She is currently writing her 5th book on using affirmations to raise your vibration. valeriegilbert.weebly.com, ravingvioletvalerie.blogspot.com


Me: It is always a pleasure to talk with you and I thank you for agreeing to discuss the craft of dialogue.  I marvel at your ability to use your voice in dialogue — your character personifications are so real. And now I take this opportunity to say how I have enjoyed listening to all your books and look forward to you finishing your fifth.

In talking about dialogue, I, as a reader, find it vitally important to the enjoyment of a story.  I think that is why I enjoy listening to a good story when it is produced by a savvy narrator.  The narrator either magnifies the perfection and imperfection of a character or doesn’t.  Dialogue allows the reader to hear from the horse’s mouth how he/she is dealing with the challenges presented to him/her, rather than being told in the narrative part of the writing. What more truth is there to the reader than to hear it from the character himself/herself? And now the questions!

How does dialogue affect the pacing of a story? Please define for our readers what pacing is.

valerieWell, pacing is the movement and flow of a story.  If you think of a piece of music, a symphony, different sections move at different tempos.  The same with life, and it’s the shifts that contribute to intrigue.  If everything was super slow throughout a story, or super fast, it would be dull.

Story is really the most important aspect of a work, what happens and why. Dialogue is but one expression of how the characters behave. The other is their action.  Words are important, but we also know that they can deceive.  If a person’s words and actions are not in alignment, the person has no integrity.  Dialogue is really the frosting on the cake, in my opinion.  How the character is conceived and fleshed out, that’s the cake.

How do you choose the voice of a character?  

I valeriethink the characters choose for themselves.  Most actors have an instinctive take on characters, yet all actors will have different takes on the same character. However, over time, whether rehearsing a play, performing in a film, or recording an audiobook, characters and their voices, evolve.  Look at early Peanuts cartoons versus Peanuts years into production, there is great growth. This is inevitable and good.  No artist remains static.  I’ll find my character’s voices change over the course of an audiobook narration because my character development is evolving through performance over time.

An author may well find the same thing.  The more you write a character, the more they come to life.  With any luck, your characters will take on a life of their own as you’re writing a novel. I’ve written four books, but they are non-fiction, so I can’t comment on character dialogue.  On the other hand, my voice as an author has evolved in the process of continued writing.  It’s inevitable that you grow as an artist, and if you’re worth your salt, it’s inevitable that your characters will evolve if you’re writing fiction. The only way to get better at anything is to do it. Get in the trenches.

Every actor will have a different take on a character, though some interpretations may seem similar. Authors have characters’ voices in their head, and narrators will have to come close to the author’s vision for an audiobook.  Or, change the author’s mind.  In film, theatre, and TV, the author (unless they’re heavy hitters) has little to no say in who is cast, and the director may change her mind about a character’s depiction based on who auditions.  Actors bring the words to life.  On the other hand, some readers like to flesh out characters in their own minds, which I totally understand.

How do you develop a good ear for knowing the words and tone and even regional vernacular is right in a scene of dialogue?

valerieI’m not sure you can develop a good ear.  I think you have it, or you don’t.  No matter who you are, you can learn to play the violin, to paint, etc.  But those with natural ability will grow rapidly while others will plod along. Dialogue is very musical, and because I am trained as a musician, and have natural rhythmic and musical ability, it does help with performance.  People with no flow will not be good musicians or actors. Everything is about rhythm.  Good storytelling has everything to do with pacing, whether you’re writing or performing.

Why is dialogue so important in a good story?

valerieIt’s what brings characters to life!

That it does, Valerie.  It helps set the mood or tone of the story, gets the emotions flowing when done well.  I love to cry when it’s sad and ready to champion the protagonist when he/she is indignant or angry about a wrong.

I would say dialogue is very adaptable and can aid an ailing story.  It is like an herb which cures and improves many maladies of the body. If your characters need better fleshing out, look to dialogue.  If your story is moving to slow or not fast enough, look to dialogue. If a scene needs tightening up, look to dialogue.  Although, Gloria Kempton, who writes for Writer’s Digest, says that dialogue should be used as a means to an end and not an end for its own sake. That is to say, dialogue should move the story forward. Thank you for joining Valerie and me today.  If you are interested in hearing samples of Valerie narrate, I have attached a link to take you to an earlier post here at Booktalk with Eileen where she discusses her work and thoughts about narration, in general. https://wp.me/p40XtX-3pT 

I have one more post on dialogue crafting before I shift gears–next month discussing character building.

About eileendandashi

I am a lover of books, both reading and writing. 2018 marks the beginning of my own journey from writer to published author. This blog will showcase various authors' thoughts on the elements of novel crafting, and my attempts to find my voice in writing. While journaling this journey, I hope to encourage others to follow their dreams. Book reviews continue as I have the last four years, only making time for my new pursuits.
This entry was posted in Guest Audiobook Narrator, Interviewing authors, Novel Development, On Becoming a Writer, Valerie gilbert and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Dialogue from the point of view of Valerie Gilbert, narrator, musician, actress and mystic–a gifted individual.

  1. Diana Cosby says:

    Wonderful! I thoroughly enjoyed your take on dialogue and totally agree, the more you write a character, the more you come to know them, and the more they come to life. 🙂
    Eileen, excellent interview, I’m enjoying your blog series, ‘Journaling a Journey — Learning the Art of Crafting a Novel.’


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s