Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Dialogue to the Rescue

   Ever get stuck in a scene, not sure how to continue? Add in some dialogue and the scene will come to life. Worried that you're using too much telling and not enough showing? Use dialogue to describe the surroundings and/or the body language of the other characters. Visual media such as TV and movies rely heavily on the viewer's perception of body language and facial expressions to convey the mood of a scene. Obviously, that is not possible using the medium of words on paper.
  Don't fall into the trap of transferring your telling from the narrator to your character. The character can be just as good at telling as you are. How they react to a situation or another character can be shown through how they speak. This includes internal dialogue. Face it, we all talk to ourselves and our characters should be no different.
   All emotions are easily shown through dialogue. You don't have to tell us your character is angry, happy, sad or apprehensive. Their dialogue will let the reader know how they feel. It can also give us a clue as to what they are seeing in the body language of another person. You don't have to tell me that a character is an old grump when they say something like, "Great, another picture of a stupid kitten." Compare that to, "Oh look! I just love pictures of cut little kittens." The personalities of these two characters is shown quite clearly.
   I love to read and write character driven stories, so it stands to reason that character development through dialogue is important to me. Fortunately, dialogue is one of my few strong points and I like to think that makes my stories more enjoyable.
   Today's shared scene from my fan/fic is a snippet of conversation between Thom, Mat and Moraine after they rescued her from the Tower of Genji.
   Thanks for reading.

   “Matrim,” she asked. “When you went through the redstone arch in the Stone of Tear, what answers did they give you?”

   Mat got up and started pacing. “What bloody answers,” he protested. “Those flaming snake faced sons of goats didn’t answer any of my questions. All they gave me was a bunch of gibberish that didn’t make any sense at the time.”

   “Is it possible the interpreter misunderstood?”

   “What interpreter?”

   “Matrim, the Aelfinn and Eelfinn only speak in the Old Tongue,” she informed him.

   “I know,” he smiled significantly.

   “Interesting. So what did they say, exactly?”

   As Mat got a faraway look in his eye, he whispered, “You will die and live again; You will marry the Daughter of the Nine Moons; You will give up half the light of the world to save the world.”

   Tears welled up in Thom’s eyes and a lump the size of a juggling ball filled his throat as Moraine cried out.

   “Oh! Matrim. You knew, didn’t you! You knew before you came for me what you would lose, but you came anyway.”

   “A true hero of the ages,” Thom said softly.

   “None of that now, Thom,” Mat muttered. “I told you before, I’m no bloody hero. It needed to be done so we did it. Did you think I would let you and Jain have all the fun? Besides, Jain is the real hero. He gave up his life for us. Isn’t that what heroes are supposed to do?”

   “Sometimes Mat. Sometimes.”

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