Saturday, August 25, 2012

Saturday on Dialogue

Or: It's really windy and my allergies are killing me so I dunno how coherant this will be.

(Seriously, my nose is all chafed and it's just pathetic. Stupid allergies. And I took my allergy meds as soon as I woke up so I don't even want to imagine what today would have been like without them. But as it is... breathing is HARD.)

So a little while ago I asked you guys what you'd like to see me blog about (which I'd still like to know!) and an Anon asked this:

"When I was writing today I thought of something I'd love for you to blog about. When characters are having a conversation, sometimes I feel like the "tags" of the dialogue start to repeat themselves, and I have trouble coming up with new ones. Like their actions, for example. "He nodded", "she smiled", "his gaze was intense as he said", things like that. I feel like it should be easier to come up with a variety, but sometimes it's hard! I know it also depends on the characters and their situations, but I'd be interested to hear what you think, and what you do in your own writing. Thanks! :)"

Sorry it took me a bit to get to this (and also that you're getting it on a day where I'm probably pretty dumb from the snot in my head), but here's my answer, anyways.

My answer is... I have no idea.

No, no, I'm not done! But the thing is, dialogue is easy for me for the most part. For the most part, my rough drafts just tend to be dialogue.

So! I thought maybe I'd share a (very, very rough, it's pre-first draft still) scene with you guys, then talk about it a bit. Sound good? Good.

"Are you ever going to tell me your last name?"

Jack looked across the trailer at me and slowly grinned. "Maybe one day."

"You tell me everything else."

"That's because you never go away."

I stuck my tongue out at him. "Are you coming to dinner?"

"Sure. You gonna be there."

I snorted. "Duh. What else would I be doing?"

He shrugged, taking a shirt from the small closet. "Go out?"

"Pfft, with who?"

Jack slid his arms into the sleeves of his shirt. "There's always me."

"You asking me out, Pittsburgh?" I teased.

He didn't say anything.

I blinked, then slowly crossed the trailer until I stood in front of him. I drew the edges of his shirt together and slipped a few of the buttons closed without thinking about it. "Are you asking me out, Jack?"

"Maybe I am."

"Well." I played with the edges of his shirt. "I guess you do owe me dinner."

"Doing anything tomorrow?"

"Rehearsal. Same as today." I look down at his shirt and curse. "I'm getting chalk all over you."

"I'm used to it. Once in a while, I swear I sneeze soot."

"Gross." But I laughed. "You wouldn't believe the places I find chalk. It gets stuck under my nails and ends up everywhere."

Jack touched my cheek. "Sawyer."

I looked up at him. "Yeah?"

"Tomorrow night?"

I smiled. "Sure." 

Obviously, this is very skeletal. You don't get a big sense of the setting from this and the balance isn't quite right. (I don't know how to explain that better. There's just a balance scenes should have in my head and it makes things okay.)

So, Anon, the answer to your question is that a lot of the time, I don't tag my dialogue. Honestly, it can get a bit tedious if you over-do it, in my opinion, and I don't think it always needs it. I tend to rely pretty heavily on actions, though. (And I'm going to pretend I'm not paranoid about over-relying on them...)

If you're having trouble coming up with actions, watch people! Erm. Not in a creepy way. No stalking. I am not going to responsible if you get arrested for stalking someone. But when you're having a conversation with someone, watch how they act, how you act towards them. Watch people on TV (although keep in mind that TV is not real life). Give your character something to hold, like a cup of coffee, or a nervous habit. (Nervous habits are great.)

Okay, Anon, I'm getting a bit dizzy, so I really hope this answered you and helped. (If not, leave me a comment telling me what you're looking for, okay? Maybe I can try again.)

Leave me fun stuff in the comments!

Peace and cookies,