Saturday, February 27, 2010

Writing Around the Web: Dialogue

Are you pleased with the way you handle dialogue? Are you considering what is going unsaid in a scene?

Here are some thoughts from Midge Raymond, in a post, "Advice for Fiction Writers," on her blog, The Writer's Block: Living a Writer's Life, at She is writing about what writers can learn from plays, and she's using two that she saw, Harold Pinter’s A Kind of Alaska and Ashes to Ashes, to illustrate her points:

As I'll often mention in class, when it comes to dialogue, what's not being said in a scene can be just as important as what is. During the post-production conversation, Suzanne Bouchard, who plays Rebecca in Ashes, pointed out that the play's tension was heightened by the fact that so many questions go unanswered,remarking on how this resembles real conversations, in which people often talk over and around a subject. (I love that she added she'd taken the bus to the theater that night -- an exercise I often to give to students. Eavesdropping is one of the best ways to get a feel for real dialogue, on public transportation in particular.)

As a fiction writer, going to the theater reminds me ofwhat is possible to achieve through dialogue alone; it's something I tend to forget when I get caught up in description or interior monologue. In these two short plays, Pinter creates fully human characters not only though their words but through the spaces around them.
Photo courtesy of Sanja Gjenero at

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