Monday, March 10, 2014

Observing & Writing Dialog With Katie Hamstead Teller

Katie Hamstead Teller

While she lives in the U.S. now, this week I’m tickled to introduce you to another author who originally hails from the bush of Australia. Please meet Katie Hamstead Teller.

Born and raised in Australia, Katie’s early years of day dreaming in the “bush”, and having her father tell her wild bedtime stories, inspired her passion for writing.
After graduating High School, she became a foreign exchange student where she met a young man who several years later she married. Now she lives in Arizona with her husband, daughter and their dog.
She has a diploma in travel and tourism which helps inspire her writing. She is currently at school studying English and Creative Writing.
Katie loves to out sing her friends and family, play sports and be a good wife and mother. She now works as a Clerk with a lien company in Arizona to help support her family and her schooling. She loves to write, and takes the few spare moments in her day to work on her novels.

First, please tell us a bit about what you write and why dialog is important in your work.

I write New Adult speculative fiction. The way people talk to each other can show a great deal about their character. How honest they are, or eloquent, or if they lie or speak poorly.

Listening is an integral piece of "people watching". Do you "people listen" automatically, or do you make a deliberate effort?

I do. Since my teen years, I’ve been able to pick up on subtle things, even if I pretend not to notice.

Humans exchange a lot of information paraverbally, that is, through intonation, pacing/rhythm, volume, and enunciation. What paraverbal cues are you most sensitive or tuned into as an author, an observer, and a participant?
Wow! I don’t know. I guess the combinations of all these.

Do you enjoy writing dialog? Is there anything about writing dialog that you find challenging?

I do. Dialog gives characters out of the POV to give their perspective and show their personalities. I think the biggest thing with dialog is keeping it as natural as possible.

What have you learned about yourself and your relationships by observing real life & fictional dialog?

Um… to pay attention to more than just words. Words are limited without body language as someone can say one thing and it could mean several different things without tone, emphasis and so forth.

Do you have any characters with catchphrases or verbal habits? What are they? How do these personal quirks add depth to your characters?

I do try to give characters something they habitually say or do because I find most people do have something like this. Some people say “like” a whole lot, or “um” or “awesome”. I try to do things like pet names, hair ruffles and such to let the personality show through.

Do your characters ever interrupt, cross-talk or change the subject? Do you use communication interference in your dialog? Why/Why not?
All the time! We do it in real life, so why wouldn’t my characters? I have one character who diverts awkward subjects by changing the subject to the weather. The characters around her always know that means she doesn’t want to talk about the subject at hand.

Please share with us a dialog gem that you've recently overheard or participated in. What do you think makes this dialog interesting?

I always hear that reading dialog out loud improves its flow and reduces cheesy and stagnant lines. And like in the earlier question, quirks and “tag lines” make the dialog interesting, and sometimes funny.

Please share with us a dialog gem from your own writing. (If published, please share the title & link to purchase site.) What do you think makes this dialog interesting?

He saw me moving through the bus and stood waiting for me as I stepped out the door. “Hey, beautiful.”
I couldn’t help giggling as he took my hand. Seriously, the giggling thing when I was nervous needed to stop.

This is from my soon-to-be released book, Deceptive Cadence. James always calls her beautiful and this is the first moment he says it. Cadence’s awkward giggling is also something she struggles to control, as you see with her internal dialog. You see both right here at the foundation of their relationship.

Is there anything else about observing and writing dialog that you’d like to add?
Make sure you keep it natural. Think about how people around you speak and communicate and implement that into the writing. Writing is expressing people, characters and events, so what you see should be what the words reflect.

Find Katie at the following links:
KIYA: Hope of the Pharaoh (Kiya Trilogy #1) -