Ok /lit/, how do you write dialog & conversation between characters? General dialog discussion/comments thread. Pic unrelated.
I have been working on fantasy and science fiction writing. I can put together good narration and description that I like, but when I write dialog, it tends to come out sounding like shit. It tends to be overly formal sounding, contrived, etc.
So, to pose some general questions:
Does dialog need to advance the plot?
Do you write dialog with a lot of questions between characters? Too many questions makes it sound too expository, I suspect.
What kind of aesthetic/goal do you try to achieve with dialog ... e.g. clever exchanges, wordplay, etc.?
I didn't think I was being disrespectful, but OK, duly noted.
I agree with this, you definitely need to do -something- in order to avoid infodumping. However, I notice when characters ask each other questions, it seems like infodumping automatically occurs. In real life, this is pretty realistic; people ask questions when they want infodumps, and infodumps are provided from questions. But it seems like that is kind of boring in writing, so you just want to avoid questions and direct information exchange in general. But then, it seems like the conversation is empty, conveys no information, etc.
Paradox, or me confused/overthinking? I don't know.
One thing I've thought about is making the conversation always situational. E.g., leaves fall down from the tree, then the characters observe and talk about this. That way the conversation is motivated by outside events, doesn't have to convey any information as its goal. That way, you escape from the expository/infodumping boringness. However, in situational discussions, it seems like it's difficult for simple situations to incite a great deal of discussion. E.g., leaves fall from tree, Adam says 'Look at those,' John says, 'Cool', and then dialog is over, which is way too premature and pointless. So it needs to be situational enough to inspire/motivate a good deal of conversation?
I would recommend Robert Bolt's A Man For All Seasons for understanding the dynamic of a scene and character conversations.
Usually a scene has a point or a story value to attribute to it. In conversation the subject is discussed with respect to pathos, logos and ethos... both characters seek to sound each other out on these subject, until we reach a profound character-based understanding of who were dealing with.
Ok, I just read something that says dialog can't be aimless, it has to do one of the following:
- establish tone or mood
- provide exposition or back story
- reveal character and motivation
- create intimacy and immediacy
- move the plot forward and/or increase its pace
- create or add to existing conflict
- remind the reader of things they may have forgotten
This makes sense to me. Maybe my issue has been that I have trying to write dialog which is aimless. Really, my intention was to write "aimless" dialog but have it then implicitly reveal stuff about the characters. But maybe instead I need to embrace the fact that the dialog has to have a point, and then work to make sure the point isn't too obvious or overworked.
In general, I think my writing perhaps hasn't been plotted strongly enough. Therefore the aimlessness especially reached an unendurable level when it came to the dialog.