Character Dialogue Collection


two people sitting on a bench talking
Image by Anna Vander Stel on Unsplash

While reading an article on the NY Book Editors blog about creating a consistent voice for your characters when I found this gem:

“After you’ve written your manuscript, copy and paste each character’s dialogue into a dedicated file. Now, read through the dialogue and look for any inconsistencies. Also make note of repetition (i.e. favorite phrases, specific sentence structure, passive or active voice). Next, tweak each line of dialogue to create consistency of voice.”

This really hit home with me as one character in my current work in progress is from another country, and I already have an editorial note to go back and make sure he sounds like a foreigner (and not like me). It occurred to me I could easily do this in my Scrivener project using Keywords and Collections.

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For those who don’t know, Scrivener is an outstanding writing tool which lets you organize your writing projects in so many ways.

I will use Scrivener Collections to organize my Dialogue collection for my character. Here are the steps:

  1. Create a Keyword representing where your character has speaking parts: char1_dialogue
  2. Add this keyword to every scene where he speaks.
  3. Use Scrivener’s Search in Project feature. Change the settings to search in Keywords and enter the keyword (char1_dialogue) in the search field.
  4. Click on the settings again and select Save to Collection.

Saving the results to a Collection means that as you add more scenes with this keyword, they will automatically appear in the collection and you won’t have to research. Now I can keep writing and easily check to make sure I’m being consistent with his dialogue.

Happy Writing!

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Ed Skinner

    Following on to your post, with the Search Collection for a particular character’s speech selected, click in the text and then select all text. Then, use Edit -> Writing Tools -> Linguistic Focus, and click the box for Direct Speech. Although this shows everyone’s speech in that scene, this does make it easier to spot that of one particular character.

    FYI: The Linguistic Focus only seems to work on text that’s been selected. Absent any selection, the Linguistic Focus option will be greyed out.

    1. Lancy M

      I love this idea and am definitely adding it to my toolbox. Thanks for sharing!

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