1. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    Dialogue?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by CMastah, May 10, 2016.

    So.....as someone who never leaves his house and usually answers questions directly and gives the exact answer people were looking for, I don't know what chit chat looks like. I also don't know what discussions are like because....again, I don't discuss.

    I just had a scene where a kid stood up for someone and stopped the beating they were receiving and his mother was like 'well done child' and 'I'm really glad you're my son', and then she heads off to help the one who got attacked (who is being carried off scene by his own mother). Another character on scene pats him on the head and then leaves, saying 'you did well'. I'm trying to have a scene between the kid and the matron of the tribe where she tells him he should not have interfered (though she was against the beating and was glad he did) and all I can think of is 'you should not have interfered son of Genri' and 'Athas is the shaman of the tribe' (and then ensue kid saying he did it because his friend was getting hurt, and then the matron tells him kid broke the rule, and then MC says why is Athas the shaman when he harms the people and so on and so forth, but all very direct and short) or she cuts it short and says 'but I'm glad you did'.

    I read other novels and I see characters who all feel so alive, but I can't bring life into my own characters. Can someone tell me how to make dialogue seem alive?
     
  2. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    Go outside and listen to people. Watch Tarantino films. More even more books.

    You seem aware that people don't just state what they meant outright, so think about how to dance around the point a little more. Sure, maybe she means "you should not have interfered", but why would she not say "You stupid child! Don't you see what you did? You've brought shame on us."
     
  3. storystitcher
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    storystitcher Member

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    Well, I don't know how much I can help you since I also struggle with dialogue. Like you, I am not one for chit-chat in real life, so it's sometimes hard to write it well in a story, especially if the characters are drastically different from me.

    But what I try to do when writing dialogue is make sure that I don't only write dialogue. So, write about the feelings of the characters, or what one character thinks the other is feeling etc, what kind of hand movements are they making if they're that sort of person, that kind of thing. I also read a tip on here a while ago, can't remember from who, I'm afraid, but they said that in writing dialogue it's important to stay in touch with the real world. So if what one character says makes the other nervous, have the character start tapping anxiously on the table or start noticing the ticking of the clock or something. All this plays into how your character is going to speak. As @NiallRoach alluded to, the emotions and intentions of your character will affect what they say. This is how I try to make the dialogue come alive. Whether it works or not I'm not so sure haha.
     
  4. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    I like to use films as examples for things like this. A couple of movies that are nothing but conversations:

    My Dinner With Andre
    Before Sunrise (my personal recommendation)
    Pulp Fiction
    Fargo
    The Breakfast Club
    Clerks

    These are all wildly different genres so you can find something that appeals to you. Listen to not only what is said but how it is spoken.
     
  5. CMastah
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    CMastah Active Member

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    Thanks for the tips guys, I'll also look into those movies.

    Reading the works of some authors makes me wonder how they make it look so easy. I'm trying to tackle this as well from another angle by writing down some scenes (that aren't going to appear in the story, they're for practice) where I explore the character's dialogue and see what they say when in the company of friends and family to get a handle on how they might speak in specific scenarios.
     
  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    No hidden feelings? No deep desires? No wish to say - who cares about small talk like the weather I want to talk about deeper things.
    I use dialogue to stir reactions and set up other scenes and reveal feelings. It's fine for a mother to say she's proud of her boy for doing the right thing - especially if she's that type - but there would be some mothers yelling - what are you sticking your neck out for? Stop getting involved. Your father always thought he was a hero and look where it got him!
    That brings up backstory - what happened to the father, and her resentment. It also allows him to feel the burden of his mother's anger and his own for having to live under the stigma of the past.

    If you want the matron of the tribe to tell him he shouldn't have interfered start thinking why - make it deeper, make it connect with her. Why didn't she want him to interfere on a personal level. People don't just speak just to get things said - they speak to voice their own opinions, beliefs, desires, release their personalities, to exercise control, to please, to stir up trouble - all kinds of reasons.

    Let their mood come out through the words they choose to use. People aren't always polite and they don't always speak intelligently - anger, fear, jealousy, arrogance, meekness, disappointment, resentment - changes things up. What is the matron feeling - what is the boy feeling? Is he angry that he's being chastised, does she see this anger and want to rebuke him for thinking he's above discipline. Dialogue is about getting to the heart of your characters and how they feel about the situation. Make it a bit more complex and complicated and your dialogue won't be so cut and dried.
     
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