THREE THINGS THAT MAKE DIALOGUE STAND OUT
One of the reasons dialogue can be tricky is that in real life, we'll meet someone in the street we know, say to them 'another dreich day' get a nod in response as the person pulls their hood further over their head. Or, we'll meet the person we dread running into: the one that bores you rigid for ten minutes and never lets you get a word in edgeways.
Neither of these exchanges would work in a novel. Readers want conversation that is lively, they want to hear characters say things that are interesting and exciting. They want a character to divulge where granny hid her hoard of gold sovereigns.
Good dialogue should do one or all of three things. It should:
1. Reveal the relationship between the characters.
2. Move the story forward
3 .Increase the tension.
I'l try to write a piece of dialogue that does all three.
Dialogue in Crime Fiction
So, lets jump into a crime novel, we'll call it 'The Last Ride'. Darren is a rapist and serial killer of young girls. His appearance isn't particularly attractive or what anyone would describe as trustworthy. He's not the sort of stranger, young girls would get into a car with willingly. Elizabeth, a forty five year old schoolteacher is besotted with the twenty-four-year old Darren though,and keeps hoping they'll begin a physical relationship. Darren has been using Elizabeth to procure his last three victims. She pulls up alongside a schoolgirl on her way home and offers her a ride. Darren in hidden in the back of her car. Now Darren is impatient to kill again.
Darren run his fingers over her forearm, stroking the fair hairs until a tingle ran up Liz's spine. 'Ive picked out another girl. She walks home down Draycot Avenue.'
The pleasure Liz had been feeling ended and she turned her head away from him.
'This one will be dead easy to grab. She's always on her own and the street is deserted around four o'clock' said Darren
'Liz pulled away from his touch.' I don't think we should do another one.'
'Why not?' You're not going off me are you?'
'No, of course not. I just don't think we should take another risk.'
Darren's smile disappeared. 'When I want your opinion, I'll tell you what it is. Now are you listening? We're going to take this one on Monday'.
Tears streaming down her face, Liz picked up her jacket from the back of the chair. 'I just can't do this anymore Darren.'
'You can and you will, do you hear me?' Darren was shouting now, but the door was already closing behind Liz.'
I hope this dialogue meets with all three conditions. It should tell the reader that Darren is the dominant partner in the relationship and also that he manipulates her. He manipulates Liz by hinting that they are on the verge of having a meaningful relationship when has no intention of becoming sexually involved with her.
Hopefully, it moves the story forward in that it shows Darren is eager to kill again and has a victim lined up. It also reveals a twist in the storyline. Liz is no longer going to do his bidding.
The tension is created when Liz walks out without another word. Will she keep quiet about the previous killings and Darren will carry on alone? Or will she walk into the nearest Police station?
Well, the only way to get on is to get started, so onto Poachers Moon and the next chapter. That parrot is still causing dialogue problems. The Bosun is still saying just what he likes. Sometimes he's downright rude and offensive. He just doesn't care what people think of him. I don't know who he gets it all from, I really don't.
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