A to Z Blog Challenge

D is for Dialogue



“Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank and of having nothing to do: once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, “and what is the use of a book,” thought Alice, ‘without pictures or conversations?’”

Indeed Ms. Alice, indeed. My life is a dialog. Relationships, feelings, memories, all defined by the words. Useless unless those words are shared, exchanged. Words are not to be dismissed because we never choose them by accident. Our word choice, our dialog, they reveal more than just the sum of the thought. It’s the difference between cute and beautiful. The space between concern and terror. The insurmountable void separating I “like” you from I “love” you. The words we speak hold all the secrets even when the words are lies—maybe especially when they are lies.

Before I was a wordsmith I was a criminal interviewer. An entire career based on deciphering the spoken words of others. A lifetime before that, when I was a child, a person close to me lied. Not a small lie, but a grand lie. I knew the truth before the untruth was spoke and in that moment I discovered an awful reality – sometimes the people we love lie to us and often it is done to conceal the depths of their fear or pain.

A single comment shaped my life. Made me search for answers and understanding. Drew me to understand the because we speak and the one’s below the surface and how those things are revealed in words. It made me pay attention to people’s word choice and arrangement—the exact words they used, the tone, the language of their body. The journey lead me to measure dialog for truth, deception, emotion, meaning. I didn’t grow cynical. The more I learned, the more I understood that the things people say aren’t about me, they’re about them—for good or bad.

When I became a writer, that life’s work became a part of my story. I agree with Alice, “what is the worth without a conversation?” Exposition, internal thoughts, descriptions are important story elements, but I prefer to reveal characters through the things they say and the conversations they have with each other…and themselves. Our lives, the moments we remember best, are the interactions we have with people—because that provides context for reality. Even if we don’t remember the exact words, we recall the essence—did we laugh together, cry together, argue, plan, share our dreams.

We are a cognitive species, capable of abstract thoughts, but with the ability to use descriptive sounds to explain how we view the world. And we are at our best in discussion. Words are our greatest tool. Capable of deception, truth, love, hate, comfort, sympathy and empathy. Each person has a voice and has something to say. I think my characters have voices too and I prefer to let them speak for themselves.


8 replies »

  1. As I recall…you are well-aware of my conversational skills. 😉 Of course I love the Alice quote; it’s one of my favorites.

    It’s funny how I can’t remember what I had for supper yesterday, but certain conversations can be remembered verbatim after more than twenty years. Dialogue is extremely important and can shape us in so many ways, good or bad.

    My “D” for today is dialogue tags, so obviously you’re rooting through my brain and stealing my ideas. I thought you were only in SK’s closet.

  2. It is dialogue, along with the thoughts and actions of our characters, that allow the story to flow and allow us to fall in love with our characters. It’s why when I edit, I pay extra special attention to the dialogue and thought processes of my characters. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am today.

  3. How true about dialog. Words can hurt or they can inspire. One can say a sentence but how says it can mean different things to different people to. very thoughtful message here

  4. I come from a household with competitive conversation, so I learned at an early age how to verbally chastise someone or how to maim and hurt with just the right inflection. It serves me well, both in real life and on the page.

Keep it sane

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