Hello again, everyone!
I’m sorry to say that graduate school is just as hectic as it was when I wrote my last post, so this one is also going to be a little on the short side. One thing that I’ve been slowly relearning in my fiction workshop class is the importance of dialogue—not just any dialogue, but realistic dialogue that isn’t grammatically perfect and that clearly shows each character as a unique individual with his or her own quirks and mannerisms.
With that in mind, I’ll leave you all with another writing exercise. This one is from John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, one of the books on the required reading list for my fiction class.
Write a dialogue in which each of the two characters has a secret. Do not reveal the secret but make the reader intuit it. For example, the dialogue might be between a husband, who has just lost his job and hasn’t worked up the courage to tell his wife, and his wife, who has a lover in the bedroom. Purpose: to give two characters individual ways of speaking, and to make dialogue crackle with feelings not directly expressed. Remember that in dialogue, as a general rule, every pause must somehow be shown, either by narration (for example, “she paused”) or by some gesture or other break that shows the pause. And remember that gesture is a part of all real dialogue. Sometimes, for instance, we look away instead of answering. (204)