Thursday, October 27, 2011

Thursday Thoughts

I know I haven't posted in a while - here's my attempt at getting back to schedule. With Nanowrimo nearly upon us, it should be interesting. Hopefully, I'll have lots to talk about. Equally hopefully, I won't be tempted to stud it with profanity.

I want to address something quickly - and that's the idea of realistic dialogue. It's common wisdom among writers that "As you know, Bob," dialogue is frowned upon: a long passage where one character sums up something they both know. However, there are subtler forms of this. People leave out bits in their speech constantly, not just past events, but complete explanations, specific references, emotional states ... and things they may think inside the confines of their head, but would never say (exact perhaps under extreme duress).

Obviously, story dialogue is a sculptured form of real dialogue. If dialogue were rendered completely consistently, it would need tons of footnotes and a shot of caffeine. However, I find that you can get a more realistic and intriguing in-character conversation by strategically allowing characters to assume, elide, short-circuit ... and sometimes, say nothing at the worst possible moment.

When a character can say one thing in dialogue and the reader knows - without needing a narrative aside - that they mean something else, I think a writer has opened new possibilities for tension. Conflict can hinge as much off what isn't said as what is.

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