Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dialogue Should Be More than the Sum of its Parts

Readers have an expectation. Even as the story is unfolding before their eyes, their mind is working at what is happening, anticipating the next part of this scene, the next scene. Sure, a lively smart-ass character might leap off the page and entertain you with witty banter touting to her enemies all those smarty-nasty things you wish you had the balls to say to that bitch in the next cubicle. Books are, for many, an escape tool, so there is nothing wrong with a sassy character to let them live vicariously through.

That said, though we are talking about dialogue not in action scenes this week, I don't want to talk about the talking as much as the character development of the talking. Sooo much more meaning can be infused into their words. Their sentences need to be more than the sum of their parts, and, well, I'm going to stop talking about it and just let you draw your own conclusions:

Tonight Jovienne proceeded without him, bravely accepting what she understood was hers alone to face.

He stared at the doors after she passed through them, a breath locked his chest. He waited, eagerly watching that doorway. Part of him wanted her to race back out...but he knew better. Even as a child she never fled from her fears. He recalled taking her to the cemetery to see the graves of her family. She made him wait outside the gates, and assured him that she would find them herself. 

She kicked the fallen yellow leaves away, clearing the slightly mounded ground before a small headstone. Then, in front of the adjacent tombstone-for-two, she did the same for the outermost of the two graves. The green grass was a stark contrast to the bright deposits of foliage.

The center grave, she left covered. He wondered why. He wondered if it was her mother or her father that she did not reveal. He wondered if she’d had a brother or a sister, older or younger.

Upon her return to the gates an hour later, her cheeks were wet, but her eyes showed no sign of having wept. The drops on her face were only rain. He marveled, wondering if it was strength or the misunderstanding of youth that had locked in the tears she deserved to set free.

Seeing his scrutiny, she seemed to understand it. “The sky cried for me,” she said. “And the trees are weeping pretty blankets.” She glanced back at her work then, the grassy area easy to pick out. “But some graves ought to be cold.”

A chill heaved over him, and not from the late autumn air.

He had thought she worked to reveal those she cared for, but instead she had worked to, in some small way, steal the peaceful rest from those she did not care for. The child had come here to say goodbye and had said it in a manner more telling than any he could imagine.

He watched her admire the center grave under its “pretty blanket” and wondered what horror she had been released from to become his pupil.

His admiration for her was rooted in that memory.

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