Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dialog Cardio?

Well, that felt like a pretty productive night. I've just spent the past 3 hours hammering away at some main plot points, tweaking BookB's outline into a much clearer picture. It feels a lot more cohesive and has a lot more direction to it. Only about 300 words added to the actual story, about 2000 added to the notes and outline, and about 3000 in exercises.

I've also taken some time to grind out some dialog. I basically started with a nice big heaping info-dump of information and pared it down to something that felt more elegant and flowing. That's not to say that everyone speaks as though they're at tea with Her Majesty, not that sort of elegant and flowing, more like a Swan, or a hummingbird in flight, or a ninja doing ballet, with or without the tutu. I'm forcing this mental image on you! You decide! I'm just that nice.

Back on the topic of dialog, I've made some notes and I'm going to share them at the end of my blog posts for a bit. After all the point of this blog, beyond the passive-aggressive self-motivation, is to track my progress and what I'm going through. Consider these little notes my gift to you. Which means you can't complain about them to my face without being impolite. Wraps things up nicely for me.

Dialog has to flow and feel like real interaction.
This is seldom achieved by writing it exactly as real dialog would progress. Imagine a lot of contractions and slang, paired with um's ah's and casual epithets. Not to mention people speaking over each other and interrupting, which can still happen in written dialog, just not as frequently.

We write in complete sentences. We do not speak in complete sentences, keep that in mind.

Putting in too much then trimming down is ok, get the conversation saying what you need it to say then trim and prune until it flows.

Each speaking character must have their own motivation in every conversation.
Even if it's just enjoying the sound of their own voice, that is a motivation.

Each character should have their own unique voice.
This can be achieved through flavour and mannerisms, tied with their backgrounds.

Dialog and talking points should fit the voice of the character.
Don't break your character! A street urchin using long complex words is jarring, unless that's part of the character, and it should be explained as such. Don't cheat on this.

Don't info-dump.
Cleverly get your info across from the appropriate voice. Having your prostitute deliver a long exposition about the economics of running a kingdom will likely knock the reader so far out of your story that they won't be able to find it again. Nor will they have the desire to do so.

Lastly: Dialog will be rewritten... A LOT! Don't get too attached.

Bloody Hell it's 1AM I'm going to bed.

- Grimm

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