Monday, September 29, 2008

"Shut Up!" He Explained by William Noble

“Shut Up!” He Explained A Writer’s Guide to the Uses and Misuses of Dialogue by William Noble. Mr. Noble begins his book on dialogue by telling us he had been asked by
a friend to look over a manuscript for the man’s friend.
Mr. Noble said the characters were okay and the plot a good one, but he quickly lost interest because the dialogue was poorly written.

The book is divided into three sections.

  • Section one is “The Master Keys to Dialogue”.
  • Section two is “The Details of Dialogue”.
  • Section three is “Misuse and Abuse of Dialogue”.

Each chapter deals with an aspect of dialogue, which makes it easy to look up any area the writer might have questions about.

Dialogue is essential to a good story. Dialogue is
different than conversation. It moves the story along.
Any dialogue that doesn’t add to the story should be cut.
He noted that dialogue and conversation are two different things. Many new writers use conversation in the story, which makes it boring.

He provides an illustration for each point he makes in the book. For example: I learned that dialogue develops characters and creates tension between characters. The writer has to know the character so the dialogue will be authentic.

His chapters on dialect and transitions helped me critique the writing of a member of our writers’ group. I was surprised to learn how dialogue can be the basis of a lawsuit. His last chapter addressed the precautions a writer should take. He gives actual lawsuits and the judges’ decisions on those cases. That was an eye opener to me, and a situation I will definitely consider in the future.

I’ve owned this book for quite awhile but never read it. I’m glad I did. Dialogue could be the problem with my book. I’m going to go back through my own story and check to see how I can use dialogue to strengthen my story. I also plan to study dialogue in the recent best seller I finished this week.

I recommend this book as a good one to add to your library for reference whenever you find yourself unhappy with your story.

The above review was written by Sue Watson.


  1. Sue, you must have had this book for a long time. I read where this book is out of print. Whine!

    I guess I'll have to borrow it. :O)

    It looks like it has a lot of good information in it.

  2. Hey, Sue, I bought that book years ago. It's up in my closet. I did read it, but it's been a long time. Your blog reminded me it might be a good one for a second look. Thanks.

  3. Hello! I just published a blog post reviewing this self-same book. Then I did a Google search for "william noble shut up" and was interested to find your blog. So, I'm just stopping by to greet you and to point out that great minds like the same books!
    (PS: Noble's book still appears on Amazon.)

  4. Nice to meet you, Joywriter! Glad you found us. Tell us your blog name, so we can visit you, too! ~Debra


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