It’s been a while since I gave you all an extra writing challenge, and this week seems like the perfect time. So, your writing challenge for the day is dialogue based. Dialogue is often one of the most difficult things to write. While action is straight forward, and even for relatively poor writers, fairly easy to make entertaining, realistic, interesting dialogue is hard to pull off. There are several reasons for this, the most obvious of which is that we don’t generally listen to the way we talk. Dialogue needs to feel natural and real, if you read a scene of dialogue and come away saying to yourself, ‘no one talks like that’, then the author didn’t do his/her job. Also, it is relatively easy to make any subject seem dry and emotionless. Teachers do this, speakers do this, writers do this, even film makers do this. So, some ways to keep dialogue interesting: 1) keep it real within its context. Your dialogue must be realistic within the context in which you are writing. A drug dealer who doesn’t cuss, a Roman soldier who uses modern expletives, or a spaceman who talks about transistor tubes isn’t going to feel real. Common idioms, catchphrases, etc are something to be careful of as well. 2) let your passion shine through. The best speakers, teachers, etc speak out of a combination of passion and knowledge. As a writer, you have to write dialogue the same way. Trying to write a characters impassioned speech defending slavery when you find slavery to be abhorrent generally isn’t going to come out well. The same is true if you are trying to write a theological dialogue if you find theology trite and boring. When you write dialogue, write something that you are passionate about. 3) don’t type your characters. People are irreverent, rude, sometimes even mean, but they are also kind, caring, and congenial. Often we get an image of a character in our head, and try to make that image always come out. A character is mean (always), or nice (always), or comical (always). However, no one is always any of these things. Nice people snap under pressure, mean people show moments of kindness, and jokers show surprising gravity. Often it is the dialogue that doesn’t fit into your image that makes the character real. 4) stay true to character. It’s easy to over correct in an attempt to avoid typing a character and wind up with dialogue that doesn’t fit his character at all. This is usually something that will be easier to catch in editing, but it is something to watch out for.
So, your challenge for the day is to write a scene of dialogue. The conversation can be about what ever you want, but it should be more than a hundred words long. This might be a speech and reply, an argument, something that is meaningful (i.e. not somebody asking for directions). So, have at it.