December 6, 2013

Writing dialogs is an art

Dear M,

Writing dialogs is an art. If not done properly, it could look fabricated or pretentious. The purpose of dialogs is to either tell the reader something about the characters, or move the plot forward. Any dialog (or any line of text) that does not serve this purpose can be safely removed from the story.

When we write about two people meeting each other or calling up on phone, we are tempted to elaborate the greeting.
- "Hi, how are you?" - "Hi, I am fine, how are you?" - "I haven't seen you in a while." - "Oh yes I have been busy."

There could be no point to the whole thing, except that the author feels good when she/he writes it. Because, that is how normal people behave when they meet each other. But for the reader, it sounds tedious and unnecessary.

I hate to return to Hemingway, but he knows how to manage dialogs. His stories move forward on conversations - most things that we know about the protagonist or his friend or others in the story, are through dialogs between them. And he does it in such a way that it just flows smooth. It sounds exactly like the way people talk, sometimes being repetitive and distracted, but saying something significant nonetheless.

Oh look - I have begun to understand Hemingway a wee bit.


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1 comment :

  1. I like how you are documenting the writing tips in your blog. Great series.