06 April 2010

Art Imitating Life

I realized something the other day about my writing style and my real-life social preferences. Turns out, the same things I dislike about dialogue in writing are the same things I dislike when interacting with people: 
  • Small talk and meaningless words.  I never really understood the point.  Some people are just uncomfortable with silence.  Sometimes characters are too.  If that's the case, and a character rambling on and on about nonsense is part of their personality, that's brilliant.  But just to fill space, it's no excuse.
  • Sometimes you can get a sense that someone is saying something to you to get a certain reaction, for their own benefit - whether it’s fishing for a compliment, or making vague comments in the hope that you’ll ask questions and allow them to talk some more about their topic of choice. I equate this to dialogue that is rife with the author’s agenda instead of sounding true to the moment.
  • Taking twenty minutes to tell me a five minute story.  Get to the point, already!  Better yet, don't tell me the story at all.  If it were that important, you'd spit it out faster.  In dialogue, this is using 45 words where 10 would suffice.  Again, if something is important enough to say in dialogue, you should find the most precise words to say it.
You could argue that this is actually a case of life imitating art - that I'm so entrenched in my writerly mind it's rubbing off on my real life.  But anyone who knows me - especially if they've known me a while - knows I've always been this way.  I was the girl in the middle of a crowded, noisy room, who could tune it all out and take it all in at the same time.  Listening, I feel, is infinitely more valuable than speaking.


1 comment:

  1. I agree - if dialogue is poorly done, it's so hard to read! It's one instance where we don't want our art to really imitate life :)


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