Let’s Talk

two people in conversation
Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash

In a novel, dialogue is two characters talking with a purpose. You use it in your fiction writing because it is efficient. With a few lines of well written dialogue, you could build character, advance the plot, convey information, and create tension lurking beneath the surface of the spoken language, which we call “subtext.” Dialogue is the shortcut to conflict. Conflict makes drama.

Robert J Ray

We have talked a bit about building character, okay, we talk about it often. We have also talked about building scenes. This week we will talk about dialogue.

Let’s Talk

Photo by Les Anderson on Unsplash

One of my favorite selections of dialogue comes from William Faulkner’s novel, As I Lay Dying.

The section is called Cora and it is far too long to include here. I do hope you will enjoy it as much as I enjoyed teaching it during my home-schooling days. My son and I still talk about the cake.

This is a small sampling of the dialogue..

“She ought to taken those cakes anyway,” Kate says.

“Well,” I say, “I reckon she never had no use for them now.”

“She ought to taken them,” Kate says. “But those rich town ladies can change their minds. Poor folks cant.”

As I Lay Dying

1 comment

  1. Dialogue can, as stated in so many places, make or break a story. I have a 6500 word story (not sure if that is a short story or what. There are so many opinions on that subject as well) and in it I have incorporated a conversation between an educated English couple and two country bumpkins in an English pub. I put the story onto an internet site and I was criticised because those who read it, could not understand it. How am it to portray a conversation between an educated person and one of limited education, if they all speak perfect English. Now I should point out that I am Australian and I write English, English, not US English.
    Here is a sample of the conversation:

    It wasn’t long before Tobias struck up a conversation with a couple of elderly locals. Tobias chanced a question,
    “Tell me, the old abandoned estate ‘Coxes’ Folly’, what do you happen to know about it?”
    “Wot you mean, lad, know ‘bout it?” replied the old local, somewhat suspiciously.
    “Well, do you know of its history? Who owns it?”
    “Why you int’rested, lad? Ol’ mother Flipper Flopper, that’s what we calls ‘er, she own it but she way with fairies now days. Why you asking ‘bout Coxes’ Folly?”
    “Aye, Clem’s right,” piped up his mate, “Her way with fairies. Her boy, he lives in France, me thinks, eh, Clem?”
    “Aye, lazy lout. He don’t care nuffink for his auld mother. Oi, you ain’t tinking o’ movin’ in, is yar? Why you so int’rested in said Coxes’ Folly?” ” said Clem suspiciously looking over the top of his spectacles.
    “Ooooo, I woonee be doin’ that, lad. Place got ill omen, you know. It’s the music, i’nit Clem?” chipped in Clem’s mate.
    “Aye, music plays an’ nobody knows where comes from. Said it get cold and spooky when music plays, aye,” said Clem.
    “Aye, cold an’ spooky or’rite, aye Clem. He’s right, Clem is,” concluded his mate, addressing Edith.
    “Music? What kind of music?” asked Edith.
    “Me, I knows nothing ‘bout music, lady, buy folks say kinda like harp or fiddle or like, an’ very mournful, like,” replied Clem, nodding his head.
    “Yer, like harp or fiddle like as Clem says and mournful like folks tell,” echoed Clem’s mate nodding his head in agreement.
    When Tobias and Edith’s meals arrived, Tobias excused themselves, saying,
    “Well, if you will excuse us and thank you, gentlemen. Most interesting what you have told us. At least we did not travel all the way up here for nothing.”

    Interested in any comments.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.