We need to talk about it.

First off, I suspect it’s down to how much dialogue says about your characters’ backgrounds . I am scared of consistently getting the register right – the best range of words for the character’s age, social class and period. I am nervous of expressing regional identity – how do I handle my own  dialect without coming across all clogs-and-shawls? I need lessons from David Almond. I’d also love to make my characters so distinct in the way they talk that the reader immediately knows who’s talking .

Secondly there’s the question of subtext. How much should the dialogue reveal what my characters feel? How do I do that without being trite or full of improbable psychobabble? On the other hand  I know it’s good when the underlying emotion is at variance with the spoken word. Then I worry about how to reveal the hidden feelings without confusing the reader. Complex stuff.

A third area of concern to me is the sheer logistics. How to orchestrate a duologue seems OK, though there can be status reversal, but including  more people gets tricky. It’s like maths with ‘perm any three’. Just how many lines of communication can I cope with?

Finally, though I doubt it’s the last word in anxiety, the technical stuff. I can get all in a tizzy about attributions: how much is too much? What about adverbs? They can be deadly – or revealing. Likewise with business – what do people really do when they’re talking?

In short the only way I’ve found is to write it. And then act it out. And the  cringe.

How about you?

2 thoughts on “We need to talk about it.

  1. Hi,
    I think the key is to know your characters really well, practise writing them being interviewed in dialogue about different subjects, and when they are in different moods or like/dislike interviewer, thinking about other stuff and see if the subtext comes over.
    Like you say I’m sure once you write it, you’ll get it right intuitively, The more you do it the easier it becomes.
    Anne x

    • Thank you Anne for taking the trouble to comment. I like the ‘interviewing in different moods’ idea. Thank you.

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