Thursday, April 23, 2015

BryonySeriesThrowback Thursday: Pathetic First Attempts at Writing Dialogue

Monday, November 15, 2010

Pathetic First Attempts at Writing Dialogue

As a features writer, I love incorporating quotes from sources into my stories. I rarely ask people for a “quote,” because I think the best quotes come from spontaneous conversation during the course of the interview. People say the most amazing things when they aren’t paying strict attention to their words.

So how does this relate to Bryony?

Believe it or not, the fact that I would have to supply all that terrific dialogue didn’t immediately occur to me. When I began writing Bryony as a novella, I started the story on page one and kept going (and not very far, either). Once I realized I had a novel, I changed tactics and started composing scenes, not necessarily in order. I soon ran into trouble.

Speaking for Melissa and her family and friends was easy; the vampires were much harder, even though their lines had tumbled about my head for years. How exactly did John Simons, cold and reserved, sound on paper? How would the shrewd Kellen Wechsler choose his words?

I decided to practice on a conversation between Melissa and the ever so charming and charismatic Henry Matthews. I figured it would be easy because Henry was so outgoing. I wrote and rewrote their encounter until it sounded right to me and then, heart pounding, read it aloud.

Oh the horror of really bad dialogue!

Good thing I didn’t read it loud enough for anyone to hear. If it was twenty years earlier and I was less motivated, that moment would have buried any further fiction writing attempts. However, at nearly age fifty, time is not on my side, so a couple antacids later, I set my jaw and was back at it.

Eventually, I wrote something that resembled what I heard inside me. In fact, this particular scene is a favorite of those who have read the book. Buoyed by this initial success, I wrote all of Henry’s dialogue before moving onto another character. Of course, Henry would have preferred I eliminate John altogether, but that is a different story.

I still love great dialogue, and now I’m awed that, with plenty of hard work, I can sometimes write it, too.

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