Similar reasoning applies when writing scenes with only narrative or only action. You want to focus on something in your characters mind or describe something that would only sound contrived in dialogue, so you use straight narrative. Or the action needs to drive the scene forward because its intense and emotional, and your characters just wouldnt be talking during this time. Sometimes, as in real life, theres just nothing to say at the moment. Always, always, always let your characters lead you. Strikinalance there are no hard-and-fast rules about when and when not to blend dialogue, action and narrative. To weave them together well is to find your storys rhythm. But there are a few questions you can ask yourself about your story, especially in the rewrite stage, that can help you know which elements are most effective for a particular scene, and which might be better used elsewhere.
Dialogue : 13 Steps (with Pictures)
Next thing you know, youll be French-kissing. What do you know about that kind of stuff? You watch that mouth of yours, young lady. Thats exactly what Im doing, i said. I clamped my hand over my mouth and stuffed my whole face into happiest the pillow. As you can see, this passage is very effective without a bunch of narrative bogging down the moment. The dialogue here shows Dolores true attitude toward Petey, but more important, it demonstrates her feelings toward her mother. This is dialogue at its most powerful. It can take the protagonist pages to tell us something in narrative, whereas a scene of dialogue can quickly show us through that characters own words said out loud. Narrative explains, and dialogue blurts out.
In a scene of dialogue, the author quickly shows what Dolores has taken pages to tell us: I hated Petey—fantasized about his flying accidentally out a window or supermarket into the electric fan so that his spell over ma would be broken. My not kissing ma anymore was a conscious decision reached one night at bedtime with the purpose of hurting her. Well, youre stingy tonight, she said when I turned my face away from her goodnight kiss. Im not kissing you anymore, period, i told her. All day long you kiss that bird right on its filthy beak. Maybe you want to catch bird diseases, but I dont. Peteys mouth is probably cleaner than my mouth and yours put together, dolores, was her argument. I read it in my bird book.
The scene wouldnt have had the business same impact if the author had woven action and narrative throughout the dialogue. This is business a neurotic character, and this fast-paced scene of dialogue shows the extent of his neurosis, especially compared to Chloes explanation of the candles being just candles. Because this part of the scene is only dialogue, we get the full impact of his neurosis and how it expresses itself in his life. When you isolate a characters dialogue, if the reader is paying attention, hell become privy to the characters personality and motives in a way thats not possible in the woven scene just because theres too much going. Pacing your scenes, pacing is probably the most common fiction element to pay attention to when considering when and when not to weave dialogue, narrative and action. If youre creating a fast-paced conflict scene between two or more people, you might do well to consider only dialogue, at least for parts. Shes Come Undone, the young viewpoint character, dolores, is fed up with her mother, who has been grieving over the loss of her baby for more than four years and has acquired all kinds of obsessive-compulsive disorders, the most recent being an obsession with her. Dolores has already been narrating a lot of this, but now its time for her to act out her feelings.
He just said he was, to take advantage of people. It was, like, a scam. Oscar saw through all that. Its nine oclock now, boss. We should open. And i unlock the curtain, and touch a switch, and slowly the curtain rises on the working day. The candles are nothing to Chloe; theyre just candles. I feel instantly better.
Education World: dialogue, writing : guy fawkes (Nov
I can believe. But you know,. S, those were just candles. They werent really souls. Thats all superstition, that soul stuff.
S, you shouldnt be so totally morbid. I thought when you were telling me about the worst thing you ever did, itd be, like, beating up a blind guy and stealing his car. No, i never did that. You should get him to tell you about. He was drunk, though. She prettily touches her perfect hair. And the guy wasnt really blind.
Check out this scene in, the feast of love by Charles Baxter. The viewpoint character, Bradley, works at a coffee shop called Jitters. His co-worker, Chloe, asks him whats the worst thing that ever happened to him. Up until that time, the author had woven dialogue, narrative and action into a nicely balanced scene, but it was time to speed things. Bradley starts to tell Chloe about how he and some buddies were in the cathedral at Notre dame in Paris.
The storys getting long and Chloe tells him to hurry. What the author wants to highlight here is that Bradley actually thinks the worst thing hes ever done in his life is knock over a bunch of candles in a cathedral. The dialogue focuses on this alone: Let me finish this story and because my hand was shaking, i reached down to the holder, this freestanding holder or candelabra or whatever of votive candles, and somehow, i dont know how this happened, my hand caused this. And you know what the nun did, Chloe, the nun who was standing there? She could have, but she didnt. No, what she did was, she screamed. Yeah, the nun screamed in my face. You felt like pretty bad,.
Dialogue, secrets - william
You cant be thinking about how to do it, at least not while writing the first draft. During the revision process, when reading back through the story, you can see better when a scene is top-heavy with dialogue, narrative or action. The perfectly balanced scene has a rhythm to it; youll learn to recognize it when its there. Keeping talk in the foreground, having said all first that, knowing when to only focus on one element is as important as learning to weave them all together. Is it ever a good summary thing to create a scene with only dialogue? If you want to highlight a particular character trait in your viewpoint character or focus on something specific that the characters are talking about, you dont want the scene cluttered, the reader distracted or the pace slowed by action or narrative. You know how sometimes when someone is telling you a story, the setting, the other people around you, everything just kind of fades away, and youre intent only on what the other person is saying? This is what its like when you cut away action and narrative and leave only your characters spoken words.
Now, if thats so, youll be a fine beekeeper. Actually, you can be bad at something, lily, but if you love doing it, that will be enough. The sting shot pain all reviews the way to my elbow, causing me to marvel at how much punishment a minuscule creature can inflict. Im prideful enough to say i didnt complain. After you get stung, you cant get unstung no matter how much you whine about. I just dived back into the riptide of saving bees. How did Kidd know when and where to put what? This is largely an intuitive process, and Im guessing she didnt do a lot of thinking about how she was weaving the elements of fiction as she was writing her first draft. You have to move inside of your characters in order to do this.
off the ground in a clearing a short distance away and filled up the whole sky. I said to myself, will wonders never cease? I would add that to my list of careers. A writer, an English teacher and a beekeeper. Do you think i could keep bees one day? August said, didnt you tell me this past week one of the things you loved was bees and honey?
Driving back into remote corners of the woods where there were barely roads, we would come upon 25 beehives up on slats like a little lost city first tucked back in there. We lifted the covers and filled the feeders with sugar water. Earlier wed spooned dry sugar into our pockets, and now, just as a bonus, we sprinkled it on the feeding rims. I managed to get stung on my wrist while replacing a lid onto a hive box. August scraped out the stinger. I was sending them love, i said, feeling betrayed. August said, hot weather makes the bees out of sorts, i dont care how much love you send them. She pulled a small bottle of olive oil and bee pollen from her free pocket and rubbed my skin—her patented remedy.
Writer s Resource center
Most of the time, we want to balance our scenes using three elements of fiction: dialogue, action and narrative. This is one reason shredder you want to put your character in a scene with other characters as often as possible. Scenes that weave together these three elements engage the reader at an emotional level much more effectively than scenes that are only dialogue, only narrative or only action. The following is an example of a well-woven scene from sue monk kidds. The secret Life of bees. In this scene, kidd seems to want to talk to us about the risk of getting stung if we want to be true beekeepers. If we want to make a difference in the world, we must take risks, and loving something is enough reason to. Rather than preach to us through narrative alone, the author blends the scene using dialogue, action and narrative, pulling the reader. Rescuing bees took us the entire morning.