There are some things in writing that irk me. I do my best not to do these things and try very hard not to let them minimize my writing. There are some well-known authors out there that dabble in the ostentatious style of writing. Whether it’s a little or a lot, it can be tedious and frustrating to read.
I don’t enjoy when a scene is dressed up unrealistically or conversation is flowery and overdone. Writing can be extravagant without browbeating the reader into a puddle of eye rolling. I’ve talked about establishing the scene in Setting the mood and keeping it simple in KISS you’re writing. What about conversation?
Conversing is easy… not! Well it is in the real world. If I don’t write the way I talk and the way others actually respond then it can quickly become garish or even mundane if the conversation is unnecessary or could be easily replaced by a summary like I talked about in What happened yeserday?.
There are words I find in writing, even current books that are used outside narrative and within dialog that, honestly just don’t belong. Words that would never cross a real person’s lips. Sure I love to use “old fashioned” words and I adore the unusual, but too much is garish. It’s all about moderation.
The comfortable small lounge bar wasn’t crowded since it was a weeknight and not very late in the evening. “Scott, I do really enjoy our time out together. Thank you ever so much for treating me to a drink. After the overly busy and stress filled day I’ve had it is an extraordinarily kind gesture.”
Amber set her empty glass down on the round table, sat back on the soft cushioned couch and gingerly touched her bandaged forehead. It was so very small a cut, but bled so much it seemed a whole lot worse.
“You’re most welcome Amber, it is my utmost pleasure to cheer up your desolate mood. I too had a day that was hard and stressful. It would seem Dale is determined to the utmost to continuously point out that I was defeated by a woman so impervious and unobtainable.”
Scott waived at a server for refills and smiled at his friend. She was very attractive and extremely willing. That was however the entirety of the problem. He wanted a challenge, he wanted ever so much to conquer and win over a woman of moral fortitude. Amber was definitely a woman lacking discriminate taste when the matters of choosing potential suitor.
“Yes indeed, you can say that again Scott. Dale was gloating ever so much today. It seemed it was all he was capable of doing. Normally I would acquiesce and join in such banter, but Sasha is quite possibly the most elusive heartless stick in the mud I’ve ever acquainted with.”
First of all that was uber awkward and so over the top I gagged a couple times writing it. This is an extreme example but I read a lot and I’ve read some super awkward conversations that realistically would never happen. Or at least not in any situation I can think of. Maybe I’m wrong but if it’s awkward to read then it would be super awkward for people to actually say.
Let me tidy it up and modernize it a bit.
The small uncrowded lounge bar was perfect for an early evening drink. Amber downed the last of her martini. “What a super stressful crap-tacular day. I can’t thank you enough for treating me to a drink Scott.” Amber set her empty glass down on the round table, sat back on the soft cushioned couch and gingerly touched her bandaged forehead. The small attention-causing cut had bled profusely, but didn’t hurt then or now.
“No problem Stitches McGee” He teased. “I needed one as much as you. Dale was a dick all day, gloating about winning the bet. I should have known Sasha was a total unobtainable ice bitch.” He shrugged. “But my ego got in the way.”
Scott waved at a server for refills and smiled at his attractive and willing friend. He wanted a challenge, to conquer and win over a decent woman, which was not Amber. Amber was more fly by night, go where the bed sheets are open, not the kind of girl to bring home to mom and dad.
“You can say that again, I got sick of Dales crowing myself. Normally I would join in, but you didn’t deserve to be snubbed so coldly by princess frostbite.”
It is possible to have a character of wealth or education speak properly or with class, without them sounding like a pompous windbag throwback from an 1800’s romance novel. (Well unless it is a story set in the 1800’s then by all means have at it.) I have a character that speaks properly and never contracts words unnecessarily. He still uses jargon and I don’t overdo the filter words and unnecessary additives. The people he converses with speak normally, and are sometimes more flippant around him for contrast.
People speak differently, they have different lingual quirks and in a story, it’s painful to read dialogue that is the same across the board for each character. It makes for stiff conversation that I personally start skipping over or I’ll just put the book down.
My advice about ostentatious conversation.
Um don’t. Make sure each characters voice is as unique as they are. Give them catch phrases or lingual mannerisms that are theirs alone. Sure, you can have someone pick up a slang term from another and make fun with it, but really, just keep it realistic.
Posts related and mentioned in this one
KISS your writing
Setting the mood
Missing body parts
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