For my entries in the 2012 A to Z Challenge, I will be focusing on writing elements that I find important and that I want to incorporate into my work.
Today, the topic is DIALOGUE (I almost chose "Drama" for the letter 'D', but I think dialogue is actually more important, and I'll touch on elements of drama in later letters).
Yesterday I wrote about how important characterization is to me in my stories. Well, dialogue is one of the main tools to bring out that characterization. Think of the ways we interact with the people in our own lives. We see their actions, feel their touch, perhaps smell their perfume or sweat, and with a select few, maybe even taste their salty skin. But we mainly listen to them, and hopefully have them listen to us. The ability to communicate through words is what connects us to each other. Heck, if you want to get all anthropological about it, it's the whole basis for human culture and society.
So I want to use that power of communication in my stories, and do it in a way that helps bond my readers with my characters. To pull readers closer, I need my characters' words to have depth. I want their dialogue to reveal traits about who they on the inside, to give hints about their pasts and their perspectives, and to convey their emotions in both blatant and subtle ways. But it has to also seem natural and smooth, like people really talking.
That's my goal.
But there's a bonus: In addition to revealing character, well-written dialogue can also move the plot along, too. Dialogue can introduce drama, tension, and conflict. It can reveal back-story in a much more compelling way than just dumping it on the reader. That's because dialogue is something that readers want to keep reading. Dialogue has immediacy and impact -- readers feels like it is happening in front of them much more so than in dry descriptive passages. In Elmore Leonard's "Writers on Writing" (also published as his "Ten Rules" book), his tenth rule is "try to leave out the parts readers tend to skip." He sums this up by saying, "I'll bet you don't skip the dialogue."
Thanks for visiting -- see you the rest of this month for more alphabetical fun!
Don't forget to visit HERE to see all the bloggers taking part in this A-to-Z challenge, and try to drop in on as many of them as you can!