Thursday, November 25, 2010

Talking real

I've been thinking a lot about dialogue lately. It can be such an economical conveyer of emotion - no need for internal monologue or character description if your character can sum up their reaction or current emotional state in just a few words - and it can force an immediate shift in reader attention - well, I was thinking about that over there but, whoah!, what did he just say???

Of course in the wrong hands it can be at best bland - 'that's a nice digital watch' - and at worst clunky - as in 'do people really talk like that?' Dialogue has to be true to character as well, and I'm working to try to differentiate between the many voices in my head when I put them down on the page. Part of that comes from thinking about the character, what they're like, how they're likely to react and - consequently - what they're going to say. But the best dialogue comes when you as writer take time to listen and give your character space to speak for themselves. That's what happened this morning. My two main protagonists have finally come together in the Kresh novel. What on earth are they going to say to one another and - more importantly - how does the conversation get started? When faced with this kind of situation, I find the best thing to do is not think about it. So I had my blank page beside me but I didn't force anything. I just waited, looked at the newspaper, checked the email. Then I picked up my page to put it away for the day and finally the first exchange came and it was just that sort of left field, true to character set of words that I was waiting for. Now we're ready to talk.
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