Excellent Advice: Edith Wharton On Dialogue
This is not Edith Wharton, of course, but I always think of Wharton when I admire this picture of my grandmother. My grandmother aspired to looking like an Edith Wharton character. Better yet, Edith Wharton. She dressed up specially (note, in addition to the fantastic hat and blouse, the leather driving gloves and pocketbook) and had my mother take the picture.
In the past month my students have been going crazy with dialogue in their stories. Here is some advice from Wharton for us all:
“…dialogue, that precious adjunct, should never be more than an adjunct, and one to be used as skillfully and sparingly as the drop of condiment which flavours a whole dish.
“The use of dialogue in fiction seems to be one of the few things about which a fairly definite rule may be laid down. It should be reserved for the culminating moments, and regarded as the spray into which the great wave of narrative breaks in curving toward the watcher on the shore.”
From The Writing of Fiction by Edith Wharton.
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