Thursday, March 18, 2010
Blog Chain - Can We Talk?
This latest edition of the blog chain is Kate's fault. So go to her blog and blame her. Just kidding, Kate. You always have cool questions, and this one is no different.
The question she poses to those of us working the chain is the following:
Do you enjoy writing dialogue? Do you use a lot of dialogue in your writing (for our purposes "a lot" will be defined as more than a smidge and yet not so much that the quotes key on your computer is completely worn out.)? Do you have example(s) of dialogue you especially enjoyed from something you've read? Do you have example(s) of dialogue from your own writing? What about these examples makes them special?
Okay, she is actually asking a bunch of questions, but it's all on one subject - dialogue. So lets talk, shall we?
When I first read this subject, I was thinking how much fun it would be to explore this. Then as I began to ask myself these questions, I realized something. I really do not like dialogue. I've never enjoyed creating dialogue, probably because it just doesn't seem to come naturally.
When I first began writing dialogue, I would constantly make that terrible mistake - trying to find another word for "said". For example:
"That was exactly what I wanted you to think", Derek breathed.
"No", Sheila screamed.
"Yes" Derek exclaimed. "And now you will suffer for it".
Yeah, terrible dialogue. Thankfully I learned, and I try not to make that mistake these days.
As far as an example of dialogue I have liked, I take you to the words of J.R.R. Tolkien in The Hobbit. The following scene is when the trolls are discussing how they want to cook their newly captured dwarves.
"No good roasting 'em now, it'd take all night," said a voice. Bert thought it was William's.
"Don't start the argument all over again, Bill," he said, "or it will take all night."
"Who's a-arguing?" said William, who thought it was Bert that had spoken.
"You are," said Bert.
"You're a liar," said William; and so the argument began all over again.
I like this section of dialogue especially because of a few things. There's a hidden speaker here, but Bert and William don't figure that out. This speaks to their apparent lack of intellect, giving us a glimpse into their character. It also speaks to the talents of the hidden speaker, who turns out to be Gandalf the wizard.
Okay, it was probably too easy to pick something from Tolkien, but he's about the only author I could remember off the top of my head. I do pay attention to dialogue more these days, so maybe the next time this comes around, I'll have a better example.
As for my own writing, I'll give you a glimpse into my current WiP. In this scene, the main character Trevor just got grilled by his boss. He is not himself, and his friend Brent notices.
“Trevor, you listening? Man, you were this close to serious trouble. What the heck has gotten into you?”
“Nothing Brent”, Trevor shook his head. “I just had a bad night, didn’t get much sleep. I wasn’t paying attention and I took a wrong turn, that’s all.” He tried to smile at his friend, “Thanks for trying anyway.” How the hell was he going to get two specimens done in one day?
“It’s okay. Boy, Stein really has it in for you. Sure, he’s not great under any circumstances, but he seems to enjoy watching you squirm.” Giggles erupted from Brent’s mouth, smothered only barely by his meaty palm.
“Thanks a lot, pal.” Trevor tossed Brent a glare, more brutal than he intended.
“I’m just kidding, Trev. Really. Don’t be mad.”
I hope I am improving in my use of dialogue, but I honestly can't say if it's good enough. What I do like about this example is that I can feel their character coming through. I can visualize what is going on here, see these two having this conversation. I at least feel that I'm on the right track, but I do still feel unsteady when it comes to dialogue.
One thing I can say is that I am paying attention to everyone else on the chain with these questions. While it's been difficult to answer these, I have to thank Kate because I have the opportunity to learn a great deal from my fellow blog chainers.
Now that I've done my best with this one, head on over to Kat's blog to see what she has to say. If you haven't read my predecessor Sandra's answer, you need to go check that out too.