Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blog Chain - Talk to Me

My poor blog... it's been pretty neglected lately. After a brief hiatus forced by a nasty computer virus, I'm back on line. But--I'm determined to finish all of my crit reading and give some much needed attention to my WsIP right now. (Yes, I'm working on multiple projects right now, something I said I'd NEVER do!)So, aside from blog chain, I've kept a pretty low profile. Thanks to everyone who still follows me, I'm sorry I haven't commented on your blogs lately and I appreciate that you haven't dumped me yet! ;)

Kate started the chain this round, throwing down the gauntlet with a many-parted question:

Do you enjoy writing dialogue? Do you use a lot of dialogue in your writing (for our purposes "a lot" will be defined as more than a smidge and yet not so much that the quotes key on your computer is completely worn out.)? Do you have example(s) of dialogue you especially enjoyed from something you've read? Do you have example(s) of dialogue from your own writing? What about these examples makes them special?

I LOVE writing dialog. It's one aspect of my writing that I don't mind tooting my own horn about. I think I do it well and I also think I have a knack for making dialog come across as natural and fluid. Though I don't think I overuse dialog in my writing, (I hope it's about a 50/50 mix), I use dialog as a means for description as well as a tension builder within a scene.

I have SO many favorite books, so many exchanges of words that I love. Finding a good example was hard. Ultimately, I decided on a short exchange that really shows how good dialog can amp up tension in a scene. I'm a HUGE Anne Rice Fan, and this exchange between Louis and Lestat in Interview With the Vampire is one of my favorites:

"Why do you do this, Lestat?" I asked.

"I like to do it," he said. "I enjoy it." He looked at me. "I don't say that you have to enjoy it. Take your aesthete's tastes to purer things. Kill them swiftly if you will, but do it! Learn that you're a killer! Ah!"

The dialog tags here are simple: he said, he looked at me. But the conversation between the characters shows me all I need to know. The heated tempers are there, the tension is there. I can tell the friction between them is building to a point that will soon explode. This--is great dialog.

As far as my own writing goes, I'm going to defer to one of my crit partner's suggestions. It's a small snippet, as I'd like to keep this post to a PG-13 rating ;)


“Finn, her house was decked out for a date night, candles, dinner on the table, wine. Are you seriously going to stand there and tell me that you stood her up? No phone call, no apologies?”

“You’re damn right that’s what I’m telling you.” He’d closed the space between them, his stance aggressive as he leaned down to eye level. “She was nasty to you every single day of your life. Do you really think I’d give two shits if her feelings were hurt about being stood up? She deserved it. In fact, she deserved a lot more than that. I’d never play nice with anyone who’d hurt you.”

“Did she deserve to die?” Jacquelyn asked.

“What? No,” Finn said, looking away. “But damnit, Jax…”

“What, Finn?” she demanded. “What?”

“Why can’t you see that I’m willing to do whatever it takes to get you back? I’m dying here. I can’t breathe without you. You’re killing me.”

I like this exchange because it's a tense moment between my characters. I mean, it's not every day you accuse your ex-boyfriend of bringing down some serious supernatural death down on someone. Both characters are stressed. Jacquelyn, because she's trying to stop a killer and has to face the possibility someone she loved is behind the murders. And Finn, because he can't believe he's being accused by the woman he's been trying to win back for the last few chapters. I wanted their exchange to be charged, real. And as I wrote it, my stomach tightened, my jaw clenched, and I hope that the reader feels that physical tension as well while reading the words.

Want more spectacular dialog? Check out Sandra's post tomorrow!!

11 comments:

Sandra said...

Nice examples! I hope I can come up with some good ones too.

Sarah Bromley said...

Great job, Amanda! I really liked that scene from your WIP. It was raw, a good example of getting the emotion through what's said.

Eric said...

Nice post. I have to agree with Sandra. I think your example from your own writing was the best of the lot.

Christine Fonseca said...

Great example (yours) of dialogue. Man - I need to come up with something for this post....Hmm....

Cole Gibsen said...

Great examples! OMG you book sounds like so much fun :)

KM said...

I'm a dialogue fan, myself. It breaks up blocks of narration. And good examples!

Nice blog. :)

Shaun Hutchinson said...

Great examples. I'd forgotten how much fun Lestat was.
And I can't wait to read your book. Sounds FUN!

Kate Karyus Quinn said...

Love the dialogue example from your book - I can never get enough of romantic tension.

I like how in the Ann Rice example you mentioned how she used dialogue tags - it's always good to remember that using them well is part of writing good dialogue as well.

B.J. Anderson said...

Great dialogue, Amanda! And the example from Ann Rice's book was good too. Your book sounds so cool!

Michelle McLean said...

awesome example! Loved yours :) And I am a big Anne Rice fan as well. The dialogue tag thing was good to mention. I used to go way overboard on tags, got real elaborate with them (she exclaimed, she huffed, he guffawed LOL) I've learned to tone it down a bit :)

Sandy Williams said...

Hey, loved the snippet of dialogue you posted. Sounds like a great, tense scene!

BTW, I'm hopping over here after reading your Query Tracker interview. Congrats on signing with an agent! I haven't read any books on shaedes, so I'm excited to see this one.