Thursday, February 12, 2009

The Fine Art of Dialogue

“All Dialogue is Conflict!”

Author Jacqueline Lichtenberg’s battle call perfectly encapsulates my feelings about dialogue.

I’d recently finished two science fiction romance books as well as one novella, and am currently in the middle of an awesome steampunk story. What they all have in common is dialogue that pops off the page. In other words, dialogue that isn’t afraid to get its hands dirty with a lot of conflict—hence this post.

Dialogue is a crucial element to many stories. It’s difficult to do well and easy to fumble. I’m generally a plot gal, but if the dialogue sparkles, I can often forgive a low key plot or even story flaws.

I’m a big fan of conflict-laden dialogue in films, too, and sometimes I wonder how much that medium has influenced how I read/evaluate dialogue in books. Probably quite a bit (“Why am I Mr. Pink?”*). If dialogue is competent, at the least it becomes an invisible part of the process. At that point, I focus more on the story. But if superior fare dances before my eyes, it just makes the experience that much more compelling.

Dialogue is conflict, and great dialogue is infinitely seductive.

Now I’d like to point you to a few intensive posts about dialogue, brought to you by a few of the authors at Alien Romances:

“You don’t understand!” She shouted angrily… (Linnea Sinclair)

Expletive-Deleted & Tender Romance (Jacqueline Lichtenberg)

Speaking and Swearing in Alien Tongues: Reprise (Linnea Sinclair)

Screams of the Vegetables (Margaret Carter)

Verisimilitude VS Reality (Jacqueline Lichtenberg)

Joyfully yours,


* Quentin Tarantino's RESERVOIR DOGS