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Friday, October 4, 2019

Dialogue (Mailbox.....sorta)

How do I write dialogue?  

[Remember, keep sending in your questions to chris.brecheen@gmail.com with the subject line "W.A.W. Mailbox" and I will answer one or two of them every week or so. I will use your first name ONLY, unless you tell me explicitly that you'd like me to use your full name or you would prefer to remain anonymous.  My comment policy also may mean one of your comments ends up in the mailbox. And don't be afraid to prompt me to get off my ass and do some REAL work with the answer (they can't all be questions about threesomes).]

Steph asks:   

Hi!

I was hoping you could help. How do I write strong, realistic dialogue?

Thanks!

My reply:

It's been a long week and I'm still catching up from being on vacation, so I certainly hope that our question for this week is a softball right over the plate....

*opens mail*

*sighs*

*looks at current list of craft articles*

*looks at calendar...particularly the year*

*sighs again*

*presses a button on the desk*

"Cedrick, hold my calls."

"You don't get any calls."

"Well don't.....well....then just watch the door."

"You mean the dor?"

"How can you tell over voice???"

"I just can."

"Just see that I'm not disturbed."

"From my vantage you are one of the most disturbed––"

"I NEED TO DO SOME ACTUAL WORK!"

"Why didn't you just say so? I have eight arms here. I can hold down the fort and still do my nails. I'll hold your calls."

*lets go of the button, shaking head*

*turns back to post*

Steph.

Steph steph steph.....

I mean it's not like I was in danger of having a week that was too easy or anything, Steph. But okay.

It would seem that it's about that time. Actually, it seems like it's way past that time. It's certainly been long enough since the last time. I try to make it that time every couple of months or so, but such times are so labor-intensive, that it never works out that way. Who knew watching a baby and a five-year-old might occasionally involve some extra work that cuts into the ol' writing schedule? WHO COULD HAVE PREDICTED THAT?

It's time to get a new craft essay up.

This one.....about dialogue. That ever elusive, oft underlooked, massively important part of almost all fiction. This is one of those illusions that we writers have to learn how to create: how to make dialogue on the page (that is like NO conversation two people in the world have ever had) feel "real." Make it good, and scenes just flow like water. Make it stilted, and it tears your reader right out of anything you spent building up to that point.

And I can't just say "Double dip that shit" and then drop the microphone and call it a week.

So.....Steph. You're not going to get your answer today. These craft essays are HARD. They take me a long time. I lock myself down and do about five hours of research (not because I don't know my shit on the fly, but I treat this as srs bzns. I like to get my pull quotes lined up, and make sure my t's are crossed and my i's dotted. You're basically getting my college essay-writing A game.

I'm going to put myself on lockdown and start working on this. My experience is that these type of posts take me around 10-15 hours total. So if I'm superfly, it'll be done before the weekend is over.

HERE'S WHERE IT GETS TRICKY!

  1. I am rarely, if ever, truly superfly.
  2. A post like this is definitely going to be a Friday post. (So the earliest you'll see it is a week from today.)
  3. My early access patrons have been MORE than patient with me through September and they need an early access post. If all goes well and I'm wrapping this up on Sunday, I'll put it up for them Monday and make it live on Friday. However, if it looks (even remotely) like I'm not going to be able to finish this by Sunday night, I'm going to set it aside and write something else for next Friday's (11th) post that I can give them first crack at. 
  4. If #3 happens, this Dialogue article will get bumped to the NEXT Friday. October 18th.
  5. I'm not even going to apophasistically mention how many weeks back that is going to bump the article I was writing for the Friday before I left to Yosemite. Nope. Not doing it.
  6. Ten hours may not seem like much but even five a day is pretty robust for me on the weekends. I don't really sit around playing World of Warcraft on my days "off." This weekend I have a sixth-day nanny shift, and I was hoping to finish the gun article, make some headway on my compilation e-book, take a hike at some point, CLEAN MY FUCKING POST-APOCALYPTIC DISASTER MOVIE SET OF A ROOM, and probably force myself to get out of the house to catch a movie so that I don't use "I have to catch up from my vacation" as an excuse to overdo it. (Yes, I'm one of those people who sometimes have to schedule a nap to make sure I'm being kind to myself.)
  7. Which is all by way of saying that you are a top priority but life has a way of rapid-fire shooting multiple Krull Glaives all up in the grill of my best laid plans.

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