This is really a post about the writing process. Dialogue, in particular.

I think one of the things that has always frustrated me in my attempts to write fiction is how to make sure that dialogue sounds real and still manages to drive the plot forward. There are times when I write dialogue (two posts ago, for sure) that it feels contrived when I write it and sounds contrived when I read it. But–because of the nature of the story and this blog project, that’s okay–it’s more important that I flesh out a plot and then take care of sloppy dialogue when I edit the story. Other times (and this is especially true of everything I wrote in my teens and twenties), the dialogue sounded fantastic then and now sounds contrived. How to make it sound as real as possible–that’s the hope. That’s the task.

Making dialogue sound as real as possible is not the same thing as taking a verbatim. For example, right now, in the Pickup Line story I’m writing, I’m guessing that if the people I’m writing about were real people, they’d talk less elegantly–and yes, that does mean more swearing than I’m actually including in these posts, but it also means fewer complete sentences, fewer full-sentence thoughts.

And sure, you can take David Mamet as your role model and go for as rich and vulgar and as imitative of speech as possible, but I think there’s always a distance between human “speech,” and an artistic rendering/representation of that speech. Writing convincing dialogue may not mean a totally accurate representation–there is a distance between reality and readability. At least, that’s what I’m struggling with as I plod along with these fiction pieces.

At least, that’s what I think. How about you?


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