Sunday, February 15, 2009

TO WRITE: She Said, He Said
Many professional fiction writers claim that writing dialog is one of the toughest tasks they face. While making those back-and-forths sound convincing is important, dialog is also crucial because it is a place where the writer's imagination is laid bare. Good dialog offers new information and uncovers the nuances of a relationship. It doesn't beat around the bush.

Try writing some dialog yourself. Fictional situations and characters sometimes uncover thoughts and feelings you were only dimly aware of, and can help stretch your imagination in new ways.

Play with this. . .
Choose two "characters" who will talk with each other. They may be living people, historical figures, made-up creatures, objects, even places like cities or rivers. Some methods for choosing are:
  • Open a book and place your finger on any part of the page. Then choose the noun (person, place or thing) under or closest to your fingertip. Repeat to choose a second character.
  • Ask someone to name two nouns or two people at random.
  • Choose two body parts. You'd be surprised at what an eye and a liver have to tell each other.
  • Choose two feeling states to converse, such as depression, anger, perfectionism, anxiety, joy, confusion, relief.
Then, by writing freely and quickly and simply "taking dictation" in your mind, not planning, take 10 minutes to write a dialog. The conversation may be serious, deep, focused, silly or freewheeling. Reread what you've written and write for 10 more minutes on how it felt and what it might mean to you. Perhaps this clarifies some conflict you've been experiencing or gives you ideas for other "characters" you'd like to hear converse.