Anne Lamott says this about dialogue: “Suddenly people are talking, and we find ourselves clipping along. And we have all the pleasures of voyeurism because the characters don’t know we are listening. We get to feel privy to their inner workings without having to spend too much time listening to them think. I don’t want them to think all the time on paper. It’s bad enough that I have to think all the time without having someone else dump his or her obsessive-compulsive, paranoid thinking on me, too.”
I’m fairly strong on dialogue. For me, it’s the easiest part to write; it’s the narrative I struggle with. But I know I can’t have my characters talking non-stop, as some realworld teenage girls do … you know … like … bffs. So, I have to go back and add some action, some description, some thoughts. Even then, as I write in close third pov, thoughts become another sort of conversation, which I tend to get carried away with. I have to remind myself to interject some action between spurts of inner monologue.
I think most of you who read my blog are writers, so I trust you’ll understand what I’m going to say next and not take the title of this blog literally. The idea for the novel I’m writing now came from a dream I had exactly a year ago. Initially, I wrote it down as a short story, somewhat loosely based on the dream, but the characters weren’t satisfied. Meredith protested that I hadn’t really told her full story. Jalal insisted that I didn’t really understand his devastation. And Renee informed me that I flat out just didn’t have a clue.
So, I said, “Tell me.” And for the last eleven months I’ve listened as they told me their stories. I’m fascinated when they talk to me, but when they don’t, I sulk, I get angry at time wasted, then I fear they won’t ever speak again. When they do speak, or think, I’m fascinated and gladly record it all. Of course, I also watch what they’re doing, I just don’t like to write that part out.
But <sigh> I know I also have to write the parts I don’t enjoy, otherwise … all talk and no narrative will make this a dull book.