S22E8 – K/D Ratio: Beats in Dialogue

Dialogue can be tricky for authors, especially if you’ve never heard of the idea of beats in dialogue. It can either feel stilted in an attempt to make it grammatically correct, or end up nonsensical with a lack of structure. What goes in the dialogue and what goes around it? What actually needs to be said out loud? These are all things writers work to improve over time. Unfortunately, they’re not the only things about dialogue that need attention.

There’s also a lot more to writing dialogue than just knowing the right words to put on the page. You need to find the beats in dialogue. Stage actors and others involved in the theater are familiar with the idea of beats. It’s the timing of the whole play. Pauses and actions need to be in just the right place to compliment the dialogue. Take the famous line “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?” from Shakespeare’s play. When said with the wrong beats as it often is in high school readings, it comes off as asking where Romeo is located. Skilled actors, though, convey the true meaning by maintaining the beats. “Why must you be Romeo?”

In this episode, Ley introduces this idea and how it applies to Leigh’s K/D Ratio. They discuss specific lines where the beats in dialogue, often demonstrated with a dialogue tag, is misplaced.

First aired July 26, 2021.

About the Author
I'm an editor and cover designer for AspenHouse Publishing. I am also a host for AspenHouse's poscast, Writing Roots.

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