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  1. GB reader

    GB reader Contributor Contributor

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    How to break dialogue

    Discussion in 'Dialogue Development' started by GB reader, Jun 3, 2017.

    I have two characters talking. Something like.

    "...", he said.
    "...", she said.
    (repeat 16,5 times)

    They are planning a romantic heist (seduction) that she is going to perform.

    I can't have it like that. How do you get the narrator to say something in between to slow things down?

    Can I have the narrator to retell parts of the conversation?

    I have tried to let the narrator describe the characters expressions and body language as they talk, but the conversation is intensive. I can't vary these descriptions as much as I would need/like and they are short.

    Having the narrator talk about the kitchen they are sitting in or ..., doesn't feel right, it's the heist that's the center of this.

    It's in third person, very limited, present.
     
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There's got to be action taking place in between these lines of dialogue, no? Is there a possibility that the characters are unwittingly talking at the audience, telling the reader everything?
     
  3. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    This right here is your answer.

    Have there be a sexual flirtation between the two characters (eye moving over each, slight touching, lips just an inch apart, etc.) while they are talking about the heist.

    Example:

    He brushed his fingers against hers. "I'll be three blocks away with the get-away car."

    She undid the top button of her jeans. "I'll signal you with the flashlight if anything goes wrong."

    -

    I'm sure other writers will have different ideas, but this is what I do.

    -OJB
     
  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not entirely clear what your concern is. I'm tentatively assuming that it's:

    - A dislike of too many back-and-forth "saids".
    - Concern about how to step away from the conversation when you want to summarize, and how to dive back in.

    A kinda-demonstration to address both:

    Emily unfurled a roll of paper. "Here's the garden plan."

    Henry leaned on his elbows to study it. "OK, so you want irrigation where?"

    She pointed. "This is a hedge of roses, about ten feet. And in front of it there are chives, except at the far left and right, where it's sort of bookended with sage plants."

    Henry said, "I don't need to know all this."

    "Of course you do. How can you know what to water unless you know what you're watering? Now, sort of curving around the north end of the roses is a line of box hedges, with anemones in front of them..."

    Henry arranged an expression of polite interest on his face and let her talk, now and then nodding, now and then glancing at the clock. Two hours until the game.

    Eventually, she finished with, "...hardy geraniums. Not the red ones in the classic clay pots, you know. Those are really pelargoniums. How they got the wrong name is a funny story--"

    He interrupted, "Do they need a lot of water?"

     
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  5. GB reader

    GB reader Contributor Contributor

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    Thank you @Wreybies.
    There is no action, but actually if I tweak just a little (she has to have problems understanding) there are two places I can have him show rather then tell her what to do. This forces the narrator to describe what he's doing.

    Great! It will slow down story/reading time. So I learned another use of 'Show don't tell'.

    No, I don't feel they are talking to the reader about the heist, it's more the author trying to show her insecurity.
     
  6. GB reader

    GB reader Contributor Contributor

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    Thank You @OJB

    He brushed his fingers against hers. "I'll be three blocks away with the get-away car."

    She undid the top button of her jeans. "I'll signal you with the flashlight if anything goes wrong."

    They are better than mine, but 33 of them? Directly after each other (Ok, a button fly can have six buttons)

    I'll throw in some of those.
     
    Last edited: Jun 3, 2017
  7. GB reader

    GB reader Contributor Contributor

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    Thank You @ChickenFreak .

    Good examples, I will use some.
    My main problem is they are talking so intensively, (if You were there You wouldn't have the chance to say anything) in order to stick in some kind of summary I need (feel that I need) at least a 3 second break in the conversation. Maybe I need to rewrite the dialogue so that there are silent moments.

    BTW
    How did You know that He is Henry? (but She is Sarah)
     
  8. Storysmith

    Storysmith Senior Member

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    How about:

    He felt his throat tighten as he caught a glimpse of her knickers. "Don't forget, you'll need to..."

    The action doesn't always have to be something you'd see in a film. Let us know the characters' thoughts, what they see/smell/taste/..., etc. It doesn't just serve to break up the "said"s, but can provide characterisation and depth.
     
  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not clear what you mean by a three second break? There was no break in my "break"--she was rattling on about plants. But I switched from an exact representation of the conversation to a summary of it, and then back again.

    Henry and Emily are two of my characters. :)
     
  10. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Contributor Contributor

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    You can describe actions, expressions, sounds, smells, feelings, etc. as others have said. What I have to add is that you can also have background if you want, like moments, that the person whose perspective it is from has gone through, that are similar or remind them of something. Their inner thoughts can do a lot to draw the reader in as well, it makes them feel more human. I usually just italicise inner thoughts with no quotations, but treat them like dialogue, it's present tense because that's what they're saying in their head.

    I personally wouldn't have too much "sexual" stuff going on in the scene while they are actually plotting, mostly because it's a bit too cliche, but also because I would think most people would have trouble thinking too strategically when pants buttons are being undone and underwear is flying around...maybe that's just me though, I kinda get too one-track-minded once things get hot and heavy. Romantic is more "let's have a glass of wine at a fancy dinner" to me, some may probably disagree, but once clothes start coming off it's more sex than actual romance.

    What I would do is describe other things, and I'd get into the attraction part of it, but not actually into the sexual side until at least after they've laid out their plans...
     
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