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  1. KNox
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    KNox New Member

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    Story Without Dialogue?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by KNox, Jun 26, 2009.

    I've been contemplating a story (and possibly novel) idea for the past few weeks that would be utterly dialogue-free.

    That is to say, it would be a story without any speech-capable character. Instead, the protagonists would be unanthropomorphized animals.

    It's certainly interesting and would present quite a challenge in writing it - probably requiring spot-on imagery - but I think it could be unique, fresh, and if done properly, very good indeed.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    It would certainly be a challenge, given that you couldn't give them personalities withouth anthropomorphising them, so there could be no character development besides what the reader implies themselves.....but certainly sounds interesting.....bring on the experimental fiction!
     
  3. KNox
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    KNox New Member

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    That's exactly it. Reliance is on the reader's observations of the actions of each individual animal and said actions in relation to the other animals. This would, hopefully, create the reader's own personalized interpretation of the "personalities".

    I agree!
     
  4. starseed
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    starseed Contributing Member

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    Interesting. If you go for it, post a bit in the review forum. I'd like to see how you do it.
     
  5. HKB
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    HKB Contributing Member

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    What story could you write about unanthropomorphized animals that would have any elements of a story? How could that have a plot? A protagonist? Conflict? I don't think you could do it. I'm very curious about this...
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I think his point with this approach was relying on the reader to create conflict and characters themselves, presented with a source text that doesn't necessarily supply any immediate elements of a traditional narrative.
     
  7. HKB
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    HKB Contributing Member

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    So it would be a long description of animals being animals. Like, "the grey rabbit nibbled on a blade of grass. Hopped, then took a dump. Then hopped some more and then nibbled some more."
    ...
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    A lack of character conflict doesn't necessarily imply a total lack of any happenings. There can still be events that the animals can respond to, but they may not do so in a way that conforms with the expectations of how "a character" would respond to conflict, there need not be any development, tension, resolution. Just a resistance to the typical impulses of narrative creation.
     
  9. SA Mitchell
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    SA Mitchell Member

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    Have you ever read "Call of the Wild" or "White Fang"? Their both considered literary masterpieces. The main characters are almost all dogs and wolves.
     
  10. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    One of the hardest stories I ever wrote was when I was fairly young and apathetic to the true art of a good story. I would write without discretion and and cared little if anyone even liked it, let alone read it. The story that I wrote was essentially one that followed a dog I had who had just ran away. I imagined where he went and what had ultimately happened to him - there was no dialogue, of course.

    I would love nothing more than to replicate that, but now that my head is so full of information, often times useless, I find it so incredibly hard to simply depict a world a dog would see. The reason I brought all of that up is because I have an immense amount of respect for those writers who are able to effectively write a story which touches me, whether it be in a good sense or a bad one, without the use of any sort of crutches. Granted, some of us have a difficultly writing dialogue, so it's not always a crutch. Personally, however, I find dialogue to be exceedingly easy and at times dull. It's when you are aptly able to describe the simple way a chunk of nature, one which revolves entirely around your character, reacts to its sudden invader which truly thrills me.

    Anyhow, my point is I wish you the best of luck and I do hope you go through with it.
     
  11. AceKevin
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    AceKevin New Member

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    This is, to say the least, an incredibly strange viewpoint. Dialogue is a crutch? That makes...so little sense. I'm having trouble grasping the logic being used here. Dialogue is an element in almost every single story, and for good reason: it is an incredibly human element.

    I can't even conceive of someone finding dialogue dull. Brian Michael Bendis, Joss Whedon, Kevin Smith, Mark Twain, Brian Jacques, some of the best dialogue writers I know, and certainly none of them are using it as a crutch.
     
  12. Irish87
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    Irish87 Contributing Member

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    Anything that is used to alleviate something else is a crutch. Crutches are not necessarily a bad thing and at times we become so amazing at creating something with the aid of these so called crutches that they become truly special. Nevertheless, they are still being used to divert ones attention away from something else. As for why I personally find dialogue to be dull, it is because often times writers put so little actual effort into it. They make it out to be that crutch, a relief of the burden of having to constantly describe a world which can be easier to describe in the words of a character and not their own.

    I find the same annoyance in those writers who dwell on focusing their attention on every little aspect of the log cabin or the Space Marine bunker. Unfortunately, writing a story which describes nothing is seemingly impossible, while writing a story with little dialogue is a nice feat to have under your belt.

    Meh, it's late. If I'm making no sense then I don't much care. My opinions are based entirely out of what I enjoy reading and writing. Anyways, I haven't slept yet. I need sleep.
     
  13. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    Lovecraft did most of his stories with no dialogue, or with dialogue seamlessly meshed into the narrative.
     
  14. amble
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    amble Member

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    Even in Jack Londons work, I'm sure Buck and White Fang actually had thoughts. Like when he bites the mans hand, or when he's running from the pack in the Indian village.

    I may be wrong, but that's what I remember.
     
  15. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    There's a bit of science fiction I can remember reading which gave the most luscious, thick, rich image and story of a planet where mechanical organisms were the dominant life forms. The story follows daddy robot/animal/mecha thingie on a foray for "parts" as his wife robot/animal/mecha thingie lay in "pregnant" within a larger robot/animal/mech thingie which was a hospital/womb/factory of sorts.

    Not a lick of dialogue until the very last paragraph where some humans have landed on the planet and are finding that bits of their ship are disappearing. The story would have been just as good without that last bit, and again, no dialogue at all until that part.
     
  16. Evelyanin
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    Evelyanin Senior Member

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    In theory, anything could work. However, you need to be wary of things that take a lot of skill and need to be done really well in order to work. Personally, I'm not a fan of animal stories, unless the animals are given human characteristics. For example, I really enjoyed Watership Down, but from what I remember, all the rabbits could talk and where basically people in rabbit form. That kind of story lets you see the world from a completely different point of view. Perhaps the reason I don't like animal stories in which the animals are actually animals, is because I can't relate to them. If you can pull off a story which is so unique, and which at the same time keeps the readers attention, then I would consider reading it. But it has to be done really well, and I believe that is already hard enough with any kind of story, let alone a no dialogue animal story.
     
  17. KNox
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    KNox New Member

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    I think you underestimate the natural behavior of pack animals.
    I have, yes. They're both very good books and I'm a Jack London fan, but they're still giving liberties to the animals that I don't think I'd include. Their thoughts are very complex and human-esque. I think what I'd prefer is to attempt to show their thoughts and emotions through their physical actions without straightforward implying it as London did.

    This would ensure a lack of anthropomorphizing and have the reader making their own decisions about the characters' reasons and emotions.

    My stories are nearly always dialogue-packed character dramas. The goal of this is, in fact, to try to show the beauty in something much simpler than that. It would, if it went properly, be very emotional. One couldn't write a story like this without having a philosophical meaning to it. And that's not to say it's a story with a message that it is trying to pound into the reader's head, but simply something that's trying to say or show something very significant. Otherwise, it wouldn't be worth going through the complexity that this plot insists.

    I'd love to know what that story was.

    I've been writing for a very long time. I know this is going to be a challenge, but that's exactly why I like it so much. And of course, making the animals as relatable as possible is one of, if not the single biggest challenge of this story.
     
  18. Maroon
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    Maroon Active Member

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    No dialogue?

    I'd say one of the biggest potential pitfalls would be that of the telling/showing issue; without dialogue you lose one major ways of revealing details without cramming them down the readers' throats.

    I guess the key point is that once you stray into the realms of the unorthodox, your writing needs to be absolutely impeccable in order to keep your readers on board.

    Why not give it a whirl, and hand it out an excerpt for critique? You'll soon get a feel for whether it's working!
     
  19. Ragnar
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    Ragnar Contributing Member

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    interesting for the first 50-100 pages maybe. If you could make it stay interesting/exciting for the entire novel(as far as I would be concerned), I would be extremely impressed.
     
  20. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    check out richard addams... ever hear of 'watership down'?
     

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