The Cornwall Writers Circle Message Board › Crafting a scene with a lot of dialogue

Crafting a scene with a lot of dialogue

Marina C.
user 47171802
Group Organizer
Slate Hill, NY
Post #: 4
Hi, everywriter. I cribbed this from a fb discussion (thanking the author). It's some of the best advice I've seen for handling a such a scene: "I find it can be useful to write the whole scene in play form first, really honing the dialogue so it can be the spine of the scene. This lets the conversation (and through it character and plot advancement) be the focus instead of any writerly tricks or tics.
Then I layer in the (to thoroughly abuse my metaphor) the musculature of detail, setting, gesture, etc. After that, I break out my "cruel pen." And yes, this is a specific and actual pen, because I'm weird. I cut ruthlessly. If a dialogue exchange doesn't operate on at least two levels with regards to characterizing, advancing the plot, upping tension, creating mood, or adding a bit of humor, it goes. I also cull what my reader will have already experienced in his or her own life. For instance, in the example of a dinner party, there is no need for the "my, what a lovely home you have" and "can I take your coat?" sort of exchanges; people can and will happily accept those as as given, letting you launch quickly into the more essential "Wallace cracked his knuckles and said, Enough is enough. It's high time we talked about Luna"/"Lorenzo burnt his hand taking the roast in the oven and swore vehemently in Swahili, a language none of us knew he had mastered"/"Alice declined the Chianti with an ostentatious gesture as if to say yes, this time I'm serious about sobering up." When in doubt, start with the good stuff (a lesson I learn, learn, and re-learn)." Marina
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