Conversation is a multi layered beast. It can change with the wind, the tone can be misunderstood and feelings altered because of it. Small talk is generic and often dreaded. When people talk in a story it should have meaning, it should have a point and a direction. Whether it’s establishing backstory, character development, relationship development, it should have a place in the story. If it’s put there as filler, the reader isn’t dumb, and will know. I love good Banter, fun dialogue that brings out a characters nuances, hints toward an end goal and show’s us a little about who they are. Banter is easier done once the characters main attributes and position within the story have been set. Why? Because banter is often a friendly exchange, with humor, or even sexual tension depending on who is conversing. A history between the characters is necessary, it doesn’t have to be much, but enough that they can joke or make light of something common.
I just love when I’m reading a book and the characters slip into banter style conversation. It makes me as the reader feel closer to the characters. I become invested and I become interested. Too much drama, tension, or emotionally charged conversation can smack of melodrama. Eye rolling glorious melodrama.
After Sasha’s chaotic evening and past weeks she’s due for a little banter.
Sasha woke to the smell of bacon and coffee. The abnormally comfortable bed cocooned her in warmth.
“I’m not on vacation.” She whispered the words wide-eyed as it all came back. With a hand to her aching head, she slowly moved her sore stiff body from the bed. She grabbed the soft white hotel robe and covered up. Whomever went through her belongings only packed light nightwear. Nothing practical. It should bother her that someone riffled through her home to bring her things, but it didn’t. She looked at the splay of clothes on the other side of the massive bed. At least there were jeans, some fitted long sleeve shirts and a couple soft sweaters.
“Morning.” Cal didn’t look up from the paper as she padded barefoot to the table. “Hope you like more than fruit with horse food and ruined milk. I already ate.”
“Yogurt is improved milk.” She smiled at the two Ibuprofen tablets beside the plate and sat. “I sometimes treat myself, I think I’ve earned some cholesterol and salt with a side of carbs and grease.”
“I did order you plant matter as well.” He smiled when she snickered.
The article was nonspecific. Sasha’s name was still out of the story but Baylor was now headline news. For now the information, surrounding the case was contained. It couldn’t stay that way for long. He was on baby sitting duty because his superiors caught wind of his history with Baylor.
“So am I news yet?” She bit into the toast and looked at it. Real butter. “Mmm.”
“Not yet thankfully.”
“I wish it would be never.”
“We’ll do what I can. For now you’re stuck here with me.”
“As in all day?”
He turned the page slowly. “As in all day.”
She chewed the fried sausage slowly. She was being rude and knew it. It was partly because he hit on her at the bar on the anniversary of the worst day of her life. It was also because she liked him, was attracted to him and didn’t want to be. Mostly it was because Baylor had soured her mood and tainted her home. Again. Last night had been too much. Everyone was picking at her or asking her to go outside her comfort zone. A zone, she was being told too often lately, was a bit too small.
“I have work to do, I can do it here, but I should call Val and Anne and let them know I’m on an impromptu vacay.”
“Will they buy it?”
“I was chatting with Val yesterday about getting away for a few days. I didn’t say where, she knows about Baylor after the bar and the bail thingy.”
“Staying home isn’t getting away.” He folded the paper and set it on the table finally looking at her directly.
“It is for me.” She looked down at the empty plate. “Guess I was hungry.”
“You probably skipped supper and likely ate grass for lunch. Not to mention that much stress will make you hungry.”
Cal’s head tilted to the side. “What?”
“There was wheat grass in my salad at lunch.”
They both laughed. He pulled out his phone and held it out. “Untraceable and blocked. Two calls.”
She took it with a sneer. “Protective custody. More like Jail for the innocent; except lucky me gets two whole calls.”
“You broke a few laws yesterday, I see no one innocent here.”
“You’re a regular funny guy.” She stomped off to her temporary bedroom. At least her prison was four and a half stars. The door wouldn’t slam, it had a safety slow close. She scrunched her face when she heard Cal’s boisterous laugh behind her. “Jerk.”
In this, I wanted to portray that Sasha is sarcastic and health conscious, Cal is practical and nurturing. While upset about what happened Sasha is aware she is taking it out on a patient Cal. Much of their banter wouldn’t work if they hadn’t had some time together already.
My advice about Banter.
Know your characters and how they interact together (Not everyone is equal in reaction/action). Make sure to keep in mind where you eventually want them to end up. Nothing can lighten a story after a violent storm than some sunny friendly banter.
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