My heroic narrator Guy Hanson is in the throes of recording “Worm in the Blossom”. When he started this one – the third in the series – I extracted from him a promise that he was in it for the long haul, and would continue to be Sam for all seven books. And now that I know that the books are going to be audio-fied (you know what I mean) and especially now that I can hear Guy as I write, I find that it is affecting my dialogue.
For instance, I used to employ more adverbs: “he said quietly”, “she replied quickly”. (And at one point I tried to find a gazillion ways to say “said” – he growled, she whispered, they spat – until thankfully I came to my senses and realised that it irritates me when I am reading someone else’s book, so why would I replicate it in my own?) But I did stick with the adverbs for a while, until I heard Guy. And it sounds rather silly for someone to say, angrily, “‘Why should I?’ he asked angrily.” The context and words should be sufficient to convey the mood and tone, and if they are not, simply slapping an adverb on the end is not the answer. As a result, my dialogue is – I think – much simpler and crisper in layout: it’s pretty much all “he said”, “she said”, “he replied”. Guy is more than capable of supplying the right spirit when he reads aloud, and so are readers when they read to themselves.
You don’t have to take my word for it: Stephen King, who perhaps rather outsells me (so it must be working), is of the same mind.