I wrote a story a while back about a couple going through the break-up of their marriage. I wanted dialogue to tell most of the tale rather than narrative.
As I write the characters into existence I felt as though I knew them and could almost feel what they were going through. It gave me the confidence to write strong dialogue because I just knew what they would be saying to each other.
I could feel what they were feeling; the hesitation in parting, the longing for each other and what they once had, the distance that had grown around them. This gave me the confidence to describe their internal world in ways that showed you, through their actions and body language, what was going on rather than telling you. It makes it more interesting to the reader to get to know your characters themselves. This is how we do it in real life; we all make judgements about people without being told about them by someone else.
Gollum famously spoke these words in Lord of the Rings while looking for the One Ring, which Bilbo – and then Frodo – carried with him.
The ring gave powers to the wearer and spoke volumes about the person who carried it. It was one of the defining things about the characters and told of their quest as well as their character and motives.
There is a book entitled, ‘The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’, which teaches you to see in a different way.
Where drawing is concerned we often draw what we think we see (left brain) rather than what we can actually see (right brain).
For example, one of the exercises asks you to draw the spaces around and between the object you want to draw (negative space) rather than trying to draw the thing itself.
How observant are you?
Do you register faint changes in facial expressions? Do you notice the body language as one person passes something to another? Do you recognise the real meaning in people’s tone of voice?
These are all elements you can write into your story to make the characters, and what they do, more believable.
People watching is a great way to build up a resource to draw on.
I wanted to follow up from my post about a website called: Dear Photograph.
The photographs on the website conjure up some brilliant imagery of layering story.
The concept behind it is simple: take an old photograph of people you know and hold it up against the original backdrop where it was taken and photograph it so that past and present blend into one photograph.
The results are very poignant. Continue reading
Some time ago I stumbled across the website, Dear Photograph. It works on the simple idea of taking an old photograph of people you know and holding it up against the original backdrop where it was taken and photographing it so that past and present blend into one photograph.
Along with the images, the photographers write a very short piece about the picture they have uploaded. In a combination of words and image, a vivid story emerges that is often far more than the sum of its parts.
You can see where this is going, can’t you?
Two elderly men in a nursing home exchange life stories during their time there.
They gradually come to realise they are not strangers to each other as they have previously thought.
Their paths have crossed before.
Do you use he said and she said when writing dialogue?
Or do you use some of the alternatives given in the diagram here?
I have my own opinion and that is there are some very valid alternatives given here but they should be used sparingly and only to enhance the speech. In my own way of writing I try to be as spare with any he said‘s and she said‘s as possible. I don’t want too many elaborate verbs to get in the way of my dialogue.
Let’s take an example using a couple of the suggestions given: Continue reading