Dialogue, shmialogue!

In honor of NaNoWriMo (that’s National Novel Writing Month to you non-writerly folks) I am actually going to be talking about writing this week- excepting Friday because, of course, it’s book review day!  I hope you enjoy the posts and, very possibly, the samples from the current projects (or the “completed” one) I just might very well post through out the month.  Without further ado…

As I write this I am in the middle of working on the first dialogue between my protagonist and his family and am reminded of why the beginning of books are so damned difficult.  I grant you this is only my second manuscript but it’s well and truly amazing how much you forget from the beginning of the first to the beginning of the second work.  Description is something that, often times, comes easily for me.  Sure I might have to do some tweaking or general rewrites, but most of the time I find describing emotions, mental processes even sounds and scents, to come with relatively little struggle. Throw a dialogue in and I’m totally screwed up.

That isn’t to say the dialogue is like driving a railroad spike through titanium, but it definitely poses a big challenge.  It’s that moment where you really have to figure out how your character is going to be with other people, what their relationship is and, perhaps most importantly, what the history and the summation of that relationship has been up until that very moment you’re writing about.  No pressure.  Really.  *sigh*  Then there’s the issue of thinking about two people at the same time and insuring that the dialogue is realistic given each person’s perception of the other.  TWO PEOPLE!  (It’s more intimidating in all capital letters, isn’t it?  Let’s try that again- ISN’T IT? Moving on…)

For this particular work I have delved into the mind of the main character, his psychopathology and, for some reason, STILL had a hard time writing the dialogue between him and his uncle.  Considering both these characters were in the previous manuscript, albeit very small roles, you would think this would be an easy task but alas, it is not.  I get the two of these characters together and all of a sudden I’m staring at a blinking cursor on the screen as it taunts and ridicules me for my lack of imagination.  *sigh*

Then, as I wrote the dialogue, I felt disjointed- as though there was no way to make it right.  And still I must persevere to make them talk.  It really doesn’t help that I picked a schizoid with erotomania as my protagonist so he’s rather lacking in social graces to begin with- but to combine that with my lack of social graces…  well, let’s just say the dialogue is probably a little adolescent (read: awkward)  If I had the guts to reread it right now I would lay money that it sounded like a manic depressive.  On anti psychotics.  With a Wookie fetish.

Okay, so maybe not.

Ultimately, the dialogue between characters has to show something beyond the words each character speaks.  It’s also what is implied that makes a dialogue good.  The tone, the choice of words shows an education level, a distance or intimacy in the relationship, whether someone’s in a good mood or bad; the best dialogues I’ve read do all that without the characters actually saying any of those things.  And it is to that I attempt to reach, to aspire to.

When writing- what are some of the portions of the work that give you the most difficult time?  Why?


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