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Monday, March 30, 2009

Lunch with a friend

Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, I had lunch with a different friend. The experience gave me an opportunity not only to connect with friends, but also to study dialogue and how each person had unique patterns in her speech. One prattled on in a long monologue about her life, her experiences, her challenges, her hopes, and her plans. One sat quietly and asked questions of me, and I found myself the one prattling for much of the lunch. One had a give-and-take conversational style. She said something about her experiences and then asked about mine. I spoke of mine and then brought up something that reminded her of another subject for discussion. Three friends, all grown women, and all with unique conversational styles.

Do we think of the conversation style of our characters when we write? Do we consider that some of them might sound self-involved, while others appear selfless? Do we ensure that each character chooses unique wording and sentence structure that differs from the other characters? Probably not. In most of the manuscripts I edit, the characters sound (not so surprisingly) like the narrator, who also sounds a great deal like the author, naturally, yet dialogue is an area that should set characters apart and show their differences.

As writers we must stretch and search for new styles of speech so that each of our characters has unique traits, not only physically and mentally, but also conversationally.

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