Sunday, December 9, 2007


After a day of falling trees, choping wood, and stacking a 1/2 cord of wood, we did some Christmas decorating at my SIL's house. I got home. "Casablanca" was on. I watched. Dialogue so sharp, I've got paper cuts on my ears. How'd they do that? How can I do it?

3 comments: said...

It seems to me that even when dialog is supposed to depict the speaker as mundane or superficial, it is difficult to get it right. And when you want your character to be shown as snappy or clever, it's much tougher.

I've found, though, that by immersing myself in good dialog, I can tend to reproduce it (maybe the cadence, anyway) in my own writing. Philip Roth's latest novel has some sections that are exclusively dialog, and I found myself writing some surprisingly crisp dialog in my journal after reading that.

Also, writing is rewriting.

Paul Lamb

Rick Bylina said...

"Also, writing is rewriting."

Ain't that the truth.

I guess writing dialogue is a miniature of writing a scene. Instead of reversal of fortune or expectation at the end of the scene, good dialogue gives you a reversal in a few words or sentences as the actors parry each others lines.

Nancy P said...

That makes sense to me, Paul, that your dialogue would get sharper after immersing in Roth's. My tennis (back in the day) always improved after a weekend of watching a tournament on teevee. It really can rub off. And it's a lot more fun to play or write at that elevated level.