"When Men Run Out Of Words"
"When men run out of words, they reach for their swords. Let's hope we can keep them talking." ~Oliver Cromwell (Cromwell movie)
Dialogue in real life is a love-hate relationship for me. Thought and Dialogue are definitely distinct yet interlinked in many ways, and the one can affect the other.
I think incessantly... really. Non-stop. When I'm cutting up a piece of cucumber into the salad bowl, mopping the kitchen floor, or when I'm working on a Mathematics problem, I'm always subconsciously thinking of something. Maybe the only times I do not think are when I am asleep, but even then, my thoughts and the night time play on my dreams so that I think I am still thinking subconsciously. It is quite bizarre, but I love it. Because thinking is invigorating, especially if the topic I am thinking about makes me think.
And yet, if I am not thinking too deeply upon a singular subject that's ruffling me, I must talk about it. I enjoy talking- perhaps a bit too much for my own good at times- but it is good to communicate with others those thoughts. There are times though, that, like everybody sometimes does, I find myself relying on instinct and what comes to my mind first to lead my dialogue and words in the direction I'd like it to go. As much as I'm trying hard not to, phrases such as "you see(s)" "like" "know what I mean?" pop into in my vocabulary oft' too often when I am at a loss of how to tell others what I am thinking. Sometimes when I'm speaking to one of my sisters and trying to get my point across to them on a certain topic that I feel strongly about, I'd impulsively blurt, "Do you know what I mean?" And I would inevitably get a blank look from the other person, "N-o, I don't know what you mean."
I love talking, but when that happens, I find it really hard not to get discouraged and how to bring my words across to those listening to me. If I start talking before I've thought properly, I find myself using useless prepositions and adjectives, leaving out most of the nouns and verbs! That of course makes me start sounding quite absurd and so I'd blush, feel shy and inevitably shut up into myself, too embarrassed to communicate the thoughts that I so badly want to speak to others. It is all a matter of communication... of thinking things through in your head and then speaking them logically and coherently, without taking for granted that the ones you are talking to can read the thoughts in your head and make sense of what you're trying to say. I think that is why there are numerous passages in God's Word that speak of being slow to speak, guarding our tongues, and yet being just as quick to hear :).
In fiction and biography, I also love dialogues. Imagine a whole novel without any dialogue! It would be like a book without pictures, only a lot, lot worse. But I don't like reading a book that has stilted conversations that feel made up and fake. Forced. Neither do I like dialogue that leads no where. Dialogue that feels like the author didn't think before hand what the whole point of the characters' conversation was, and wasn't sure where it was heading. I never realized until recently though that I sometimes carry the "annoying habit of dialogue" of talking before thinking into my writing as well. Into the dialogue of my characters.
How can that be? I think, how we speak in real life, and how we observe conversations and dialogues of others influence the way we write dialogue in fiction, as well as the kind of books we read, which will affect our dialogue writing one way or the other. I would not say I am an authority on this subject since I'm struggling with it myself. But I know many of us writers (the ones at least who struggle with writing dialogue) would like help on this issue. So, I've got a little surprise for you all! I've asked Abigail J. Hartman who blogs on, Scribbles and Ink Stains and is the author of her debut novel, The Soldier's Cross, to write a first ever guest post on Fullness of Joy to address this issue of writing good dialogue in fiction. So stay tuned!