Logically Speaking

I think a lot about talking. Specifically dialogue. Logically, dialogue should be logical, make sense and be straight forward. Maybe not so much.

Very rarely do I partake in or hear conversation that is precise to the point and logical. People are emotional creatures and must be written that way. The mood of the character (yes they have moods too) can easily influence a response to a question, request or statement.

This goes hand and hand with trivial talking. Stiff boring conversations, just don’t happen. People interrupt, they are sarcastic, mean, sly, witty and charming to name a few. Someone grumpy is more likely to snap a response or a bored person might miss the question altogether.

“Hi Dale do you have the edit on the Watch layout I sent you this morning?”

Dale sighed heavily and looked pointedly at the clock on the wall. “No Scott I don’t have it done yet. I need at least another thirty minutes to get it right. You said you needed it by three and it’s only quarter after two.”

“Okay that’s fine Dale. Can you print it out and put it on my desk when it’s done?”

Dale huffed and frowned at Scott. “That’s Rachel’s job not mine.”

“Could you do me the favor please? I need the final copy right away and Rachael is  swamped.”

“Yes I can print it out and bring it to you.” Dale nodded and went back to work. “I’ll just work my magic.”

Scott laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. “Thank you bud.”

“No problem pal.” Dale didn’t look up as Scott walked away.
(152)

Dale is usually more abrasive and neither are so formal with each other. I’ll take out any trivial talking and the oh so logical responses.

“Hey Dale, is the Watch layout finished?”

Dale sighed heavily and tapped his watch. “It’s only quarter after two, you said three.”

“Just checking, can you print it and drop it on my desk when you’re done?”

Dale looked up and smirked. “You want me to bring you coffee and rub your feet too?”

“That’d be swell.” Scott shook his head smiling. “Rachel’s swamped, do me a solid? I need it before three if you can manage.”

“Sure.” Dale shrugged and turned back to his monitor. “I’ll just pull my magic wand out of my ass.”

“Thanks bud.” Scott laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. “Just wash it before you use it.”

“No promises.” Dale didn’t look up as Scott walked away.
(123)

29 words removed(Word count is an obsession it seems and I would be very pleased with that number), a bunch of revamping on the attitude and responses and I think that’s more interesting than a logical conversation that would never happen between the two friends.  To much logical talk can make the conversation feel uneven, imbalanced or just awkward.
My advice about overly logical conversation.
Dialogue is not the place for disinfectant. Make it dirty, gritty and imperfect.

-Sheryl

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Talking Trivial

Dialogue is important. Without it the entire novel would be a meaningless narrative. Yawn.  But why is writing dialogue so challenging? There are many reasons and I’ve touched on a few, but this time the reason isn’t trivial.

Trivialities in conversation can draw out a scene necessarily. It’s also mind-numbing boring. There are a few reasons trivialities in dialogue suck. One, nobody, and I mean nobody talks like that. Maybe in old sit-coms from the 50’s. Two, it’s probably filler conversation with no actual impact on the story. Three, if you’re watching that word count (even if you’re not) trivial conversation will kill the numbers.

So what do I mean? Let me demonstrate.

Dale sat at his desk in a slump. “Good morning Amber.” 
“Oh good morning Dale.” Amber replied and smiled.
“Did you have a good night last night?”
“Indeed I did, thank you for asking.”
“Was it better than the night before?”
“Yes, it was much better than Saturday night. And how was your night?”
“It was good.” Dale nodded and turned his computer on.
“Oh? What did you do Dale?”
Dale leaned back in his chair facing Amber. “I watched the game with Scott.”
“That’s good that you watched the game with Scott. Did you have a bit too much to drink?” Amber said while swiveling her chair from side to side
“I definitely had too much to drink for a Sunday night. Did you have time to think over our conversation from Friday?”
“I did think things over quite a bit and I have decided.”
“And what did you decide Amber?”
“I have decided to date you.”
“That’s good to hear, so you will give me a real chance?”
“Yes. I will give you a chance. We do have good chemistry.”
“I agree completely Amber. We do have good chemistry.”
“Dale, would you like to go for lunch today?”
“Yes. I would very much like to for lunch today.” Dale faced his computer as Valery approached.
(217)

Did you notice it? Even as I wrote that I was cringing from the repetitiveness. Make that four reasons trivialities are dull to read. Trivial conversation is a complete waste of space and if I come across it in a book my eyes float over the words skipping them or stop reading. It’s hard to focus on a story.  The other annoying aspect is neither have any character, its dry, dull and monotone. Nothing happened other than they chatted about Sunday night and made lunch plans. I think I’ll tidy that up a smidge.

Dale sat at his desk in a slump. “Good morning Amber.” 
Amber smiled. “Oh morning Dale.”
“Were you able to sleep better last night?” Dale turned his computer on.
“Yes thank God.” Amber rolled her eyes. “What’d you get up to? You look like hell warmed over.”
Dale leaned back in his chair facing Amber as she swiveled her chair side to slide. “Yeah, I watched the game with Scott and polished off a six-pack.”
Amber shook her finger at him as if he were naughty. “Tisk, tisk, on a Sunday no less.” 
“I’m paying the price. So did you decide?”
She nodded and glanced around surreptitiously. “You’ve proven we have chemistry so yes,” Her eyes darted about again. “We can be exclusive.”
He grinned.
Amber tilted her head slightly. “Lunch?” She shuffled her chair back into her desk.
“You bet.” He spied Valery approaching and turned to face his computer.
(151)

Whew, 66 words removed. Trivialities really do add the extra weight to the word count. Dale and Amber are not stiff nor are they proper. Therefore slang, jargon and comfortable interaction is necessary. There were only a few things I needed the reader to know, It’s Monday, Amber’s not sleeping well, he’s concerned, she decided to date him and he’s happy about it.

My advice about trivial writing.
Warm it up and relax the dialogue by letting the characters have the reins. Just make sure to keep it individual to the character speaking.

-Sheryl

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