1. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    The relationship between dialogue and setting

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by BillyxRansom, Apr 2, 2011.

    How many of you tend to write a dialogue or an action scene without really knowing where the action or dialogue is taking place? Is it a bad idea to go about it this way or does it make it in any way much more difficult to get the dialogue right so that it at least makes sense and doesn't confuse you, the writer, yourself?

    I can't decide on a setting (I have several vague ideas, but nothing solid at this point) and I have ideas on who would say what (but no names as of yet, either).
     
  2. Naiyn
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    Naiyn Contributing Member

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    I try to establish a firm grasp on where each scene takes place, cause in most circumstances, that setting will play an enourmous role in how the dialogue and action flows: Outdoors vs indoors. Crowded vs private. Familiar vs Unfamiliar etc...

    All these these things-- and every variation of them from extreme to mundane-- will have an impact on how people think and act. For example, two lovers sitting in a hot tub in a luxury suite on their honeymoon will likely do things and say things quite differently than if those same two were on their honeymoon deep in some unexplored cavern.

    Of course, it's easy to point out the extremes. But keep in mind that subtle differences in setting (in an elevator in an apartment complex, or an elevator at the Sears Tower) can have just as big an impact as the major ones.
     
  3. DarkMercury
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    DarkMercury New Member

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    It also never hurts to draft out your dialogue, and then go back and fine tune it once the setting falls into place. You might know what you want the characters to be saying, then later decide it's in a crowded bar, and that they might be more subtle about what they are saying, or use shorter, shouted sentences to be heard over the din.

    I tend to know my settings before I start writing the dialogue (though I have a bit of a struggle conveying the settings to the reader as well as I'd like), but I'm a big proponent of getting the ideas on paper before they're gone, too.
     
  4. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    How can you begin to write without knowing where the scene is taking place? Before I even start work on a chapter I know at least: the setting, the characters involved, roughly what they're going to talk about and how this scene is going to help progress the plot.
     
  5. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with Yoshiko, it sems impossible to me to start writing a scene or a dialogue without knowing where it takes place. I can honestly say I have never done that. In my story I know all the time where the characters are and what they are doing atm, so I dont think that could ever happen.
     
  6. Invincible
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    Invincible Member

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    I don't quite understand the question. Is that you don't imagine a setting for the dialogue or that you don't establish it before the dialogue takes place?

    If first, bizarre. But since it's probably the second,

    Familiarizing the setting is a good idea, but don't put the emphasis on it if the setting isn't important.
     
  7. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Putting dialogue in a setting doesn't just help the reader, it can help the writer, too. If you have a serious conversation taking place, you may want to build in pauses to give the reader a sense of the characters pondering responses. Putting it in a setting allows you to do that without having to tell the reader, "He paused to consider it."
     
  8. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    That's just it.

    I don't.

    So I need a starting place, or else I'll get stuck on the horrible drama of uncertainty.

    As it is, I can't get very far at one specific space of time due to being dry fairly quickly. So if something sparks, I gotta go with it before I run dry again. And before I lose that initial spark.
     
  9. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    No it's the first. I am mostly talking about dialogue as not only a placeholder but also to keep that spark going so I don't lose it and then stop for the whole rest of the day.
     
  10. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Well, what kind of story is it? How old are the people talking?? What are they talking about? If they are talking about being upset about a grade they just got on a test, they're probably not in the middle of desert :) Give us some info here, because I'm with Yoshiko, I don't understand.
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    What kind of story do you write?
    Do you mean you get an idea for a dialogue that you develop in your mind without yet knowing when and where to use it in the story?
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Consider whether or how your characters will interact with their environment during the conversation. That may help you decide on a setting.

    You may want to interrupt the conversation. This can help build interest. So an environment like a sporting event can provide loud cheers, passing food vendors, and sports fans pushing past to generate interruptions.

    A conversation in a restaurant will be interrupted periodically by the server, and one of the speakers could decide certain mattres shouldn't be discussed in earshot of others.

    Also, nearby events could provide analogies or other stimuli that affect the flow of the conversation.
     
  13. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    There is a blog called the bookshelf muse - it has a setting thesaurus and an emotion thesaurus, for me both are invaluable in giving my dialogue life. Dialogue is about more than just the words (personally i find what they actually say the least important [part), body language, and setting, how they interact with each other and their surroundings is more important.
     
  14. BillyxRansom
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    BillyxRansom Active Member

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    This is what I'm talking about, and is also my big issue (conveying properly what I mean to say).

    Excellent points, as always; thanks Cog!

    Post-apocalyptic fantasy - and yes that is exactly what I mean.
     
  15. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Okey, in that case I do that too. :) But only at a planning stage, to catch an idea before it goes away. When I write it in the actual novel-draft I always know where it takes place. It would be hard not to.
     
  16. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Cogito hit upon some excellent points.

    One thing I want to add is that you are not obliged to give the read 12001384081347 details about the setting; you don't need to scream out "Bob and Alice are at a restaurant with exactly 15 chocolate-colored tables, 5 elderly waiters with Victorian mustaches, blah blah blah". In fact, sometimes, you can just use a few carefully chosen details - maybe even one or two if you're skilled enough - and that will more than help the reader imagine the setting.
     
  17. KillianRussell
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    KillianRussell Contributing Member

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    My creative background is in the performing arts. Although I do know the setting. I create the lion's share of my d-log 1st in a play like form before I tackle my 67 word sentences describing a billet of light
     

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