Speaking of speaking

I have a love/hate relationship with dialogue.

In my working life dialogue has earned its own special place in hell next to guesstimate and touch base.

Hey Steve! We really should dialogue with the MD on that one

Kill me now.

In my secret, evening life as an aspiring scribbler dialogue is what keeps me going.

Whenever I'm struggling for inspiration and I can't look at a blank screen any longer, I write dialogue. Perhaps it's a natural extension from writing blog posts. I mean, when I write a blog I'm generally sort of having a chat with all of you constant readers (Gaw bless every last five o' ya).

Each time I'm fortunate enough to get a comment along the lines of "the dialogue was well written and believable" I start doing somersaults (in my mind - my back would never stand for such frivolity). If just for a little while I can make someone think that someone I created sounds like a real...err...someone then I'm genuinely ecstatic.

Recently I've been in a rut modelled on the Marianas Trench. I spent many a productive evening finding suitable excuses, surfing the net and commenting on stories but each time the blank white screen appeared I got the silent version of the screaming abdabs.

So I wrote some dialogue.

In fact I wrote it very fast and very angrily and with much muttering under my breath. Five or ten minutes later I had the basis for a story I've just submitted to Shortbread (Good Night, Good Luck and Good Love). Even better than that I'd written without any thought to what was coming out and without second guessing and checking every line.

Sometimes when I go running I can get from point A to point B without quite knowing how I got there - I just run. Usually when I write from point A to point B I check each blade of grass and stray lump of gravel along the way, often stopping to form the dusty stones into the shape of a forlorn badger or to see how each green frond intertwines with...ok I'll stop, you get the picture.

It was only when I looked back on what I'd written that I realised I hadn't bothered with any of those pesky double quotation marks. When character one finished speaking I hit enter and allowed character two to respond and so on and so forth.

I hereby promise to never, ever add speech indicators to any dialogue piece I'm drafting. What's the point? That's what the edit is for. Wasting time on punctuation up front just stifles the flow - and I was never aware of it.

It's all a learning curve this writing lark...


  1. So true Mr Eveleigh! Such a revelation!

  2. Thanks RW7! I'm learning slowly...

  3. The trick is in the editing, Nik. Yes - spontaneous dialogue is how we hope it is received as (assuming that the dialogue is not measured for effect) as in reality that is how it is supposed to be and yet most conversations are dull and not fit for fiction. You know all this of course. The piece you refer to clearly shows off your knack for snappy-witty discourse. There we are - I got rid of dialogue in favour of discourse. Discourse soon eh?

    1. I shall look forward to future discourse Adam! Very good point about the mundane nature of "real" conversations and the balancing act between embellishing them enough to create interest without losing the character you are trying to describe.