Is there any rule of thumb or general acceptance of how much of a novel should be narrative vs. how much should be dialog? There seems to be a lot of unwritten rules out there that will determine whether a novel is considered publishable or not.



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Good Lord, that member sounds extreme. She should have confined herself to reading articles then instead of novels lol
well said, Dan
I one hundred thousand percent agree!!!

What makes you unique is you being you.
Yeah, that whole section in Italy was wayyy tooo long and you are right it was an arts/history lecture. But not only that, it was toooo long. I could have lived with maybe 10-15 pages of this, but at least he didn't test your intelligence.
Jesus! Twangs and butterknives.
If you're P. D. James, 80 (narrative)/20 (dialog)
If you're Robert B. Parker, 80 (dialog)/ 80 (dialog)

No rules. Writers should do more of what they do well, sez me.
Oops - meant to say...
If you're Robert B. Parker, 80 (dialog)/ 20 (narrative)

What can I say... it's hot here.
Hot here, too. I took it for a clever take on Robert B. Parker. My prejudice, I'm afraid. :)
As a reader, Garry, I'd say there's got to be a balance. Characters need to speak not only to reveal something about themselves but also to move the plot along, and that's where dialogue comes in---the interview with a suspect, a discussion between a detective and his partner, for instance. I also like evocative descriptions of setting, to set the mood---and, when it's relevant, of characters. I personally do not like page upon page of nothing but dialogue---the sort you can find in some of those hard-boiled cop novels.

And you don't need to describe every tic and gesture a character makes. One novel I read during the past year was absolutely spoiled for me by the awkward insertion of phrases like, " He felt his forehead crease in a frown " or "Her face darkened and she chewed her lower lip." (These are not exact quotes, mind you---just examples of a type of device that I find really distracting when overused). Readers do like to have something left to the imagination. True, these are "visual" devices, akin to the use of dialogue, but better when used sparingly.
I'm not sure there are any rules. To me, if the dialogue is real, in other words it is truly like how people talk, then I think dialogue is a great way to impart information to the reader. I wrote my book in the first person and had to rely on a lot of dialogue to get information out that the main character (the narrator) did not know, could not know, etc. It was, for me, a challenging limitation I placed on myself.

If the dialogue is not true-to-life, it can be a laborious read. Write it, then have someone else read and give you feedback.

Best of luck to you.

Julie Dolcemaschio
Author, Testarossa
Whatever works, works.

If the writer does good dialog that moved the story along, I believe the writer should do it. If the writer does excellent narrative, he or she should do that.

But in any piece of fiction there is a time for narrative, a time for dialog, a time for exposition, and a time for description. As someone else here said, there is a feel involved.

As to how *much* of this, that or the other? Individual editors have their preferences, some prefer one over the others.

It's a matter of what the editor likes, and very few editors announce their preference---unless you can talk to them privately and will admit to it.


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