Of all the elements of fiction, dialogue is my favorite as both a writer and a reader. I get excited when a come across a long stretch of dialogue in a novel, and as a writer, I work on dialogue for hours.
There is no resistance. I love picturing these scintillating conversations between characters, and I have no complaints working out the kinks as I put those talks to paper.
If anybody has come across some of my work-in-progress excerpts, you would find a lot of dialogue because I love it so much. If you’d like to check that out, go here.
Maybe I should have been a screenwriter. Because splendid dialogue between characters on a movie screen makes me high for days.
For example, Pulp Fiction is one of the best dialogue movies I’ve ever seen. Without the exquisite dialogue in every single scene of the movie, Pulp Fiction would have been awful.
As far as the characters and the plot are concerned, the stories are disturbing. Generally speaking, all the characters are out for themselves and nobody has a moral compass.
There are exceptional scenes of personal growth, like the choice Butch made to save Marcellus Wallace from a hideous fate, even though Marcellus Wallace had put a hit on him.
Also, the epiphany of Jules to quit the hit man’s life, walk the earth as a holy man, in the final scene when he spares the lives of Pumpkin and Honey Bunny, made a breathtaking end to a film that boggled the minds of most people who saw it.
Pulp Fiction took black humor to a new level. Throughout the many psychotic and psychopathic events, the audience laughed hysterically and savored every moment (or almost every moment), and I believe it was because the dialogue was that brilliant.
This was during the days when Quentin Tarantino collaborated with Roger Avary. Either Avary was the dialogue genius, or the two of them needed each other for that magical precision of back and forth verbal volley between characters. All I know is the dialogue in Tarantino’s films has made cringe once they fell out and parted ways. Too many monologues.
I love good dialogue in a novel. I relish the chance to imagine these fictional conversations in my mind and put myself in the story as one of the characters.
The dialogue in Tom Robbins’ work (Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Jitterbug Perfume, Still Life With Woodpecker) makes me want to dance and celebrate the glory of life. But his characters and his plots are every bit as magnificent as the dialogue they speak.
Back in the day, Jane Austen had some pretty luscious dialogues set in Regency England. But Jane Austen had far more fodder to work with. We’ve gotten lazy and unskilled in the act of communication. For centuries, conversation was an art that most people wanted to excel at.
Now that my rant about my love of dialogue is finished, the nuggets of advice I can offer on how to pen dialogue are:
1) Practice and Read Your Dialogue Out Loud. That’s the only way you can hear the rhythm and flow of a conversation.
2) For anybody who really struggles with dialogue, I suggest writing dialogue between the writerly YOU and your principal characters. I suggest doing this one character at a time, to open yourself up to an impression of who they are as people and how they sound, even their quirky and unique expressions. A few exercises like this and you’ll be creating dialogue between the characters with little to no trouble.
I’m also happy to share a lovely article that gives more detailed tips on gorgeous dialogue. Click here.