Monday, June 6, 2011

It’s Not What You Say… It’s How You Say It.

I love reading dialogue more than anything else.  There.  I said it.  I’m not ashamed of it.  A good conversation can have more weight than thirty pages of exposition.  There is nothing stronger than listening to characters opening up and verbally interacting with one another.  With that in mind we peer into the world of dialogue within the Agent M series.

                They say actions speak louder than words and in an essence, it’s true.  Approximately 85% of what we say is body language.  That leaves only a weight of 15% to the actually words that are coming out of our mouths.  In writing, that 15% needs to be able to push beyond those boundaries because the readers need to imagine the characters speaking within the facets of their imagination.  With such a huge weight on the writer’s shoulders, it leaves little room for error.

                I firmly believe good dialogue will turn a good book into an unforgettable one.  Sure the story has to be solid and the writer has to have a certain degree of skill to properly formulate their world but if the dialogue is boring then so are the characters.  Seriously.  Who wants to read about a character that can’t even hold a decent and believable conversation?  Character personalities are extended through the words they speak.  If a badass sounds like an idiot, how believable can he really be?

                In the Agent M series, I take focus on two dichotomies of dialogue.  The Michael Madison character appears very reserved, serious, and somewhat uninterested in the world around him.   To compliment his personality, I’ve described him as being very soft spoken.  Not in the usual context you may be thinking of but Michael speaks almost effortlessly.  As if the words pass through his through with minimal thought or strain.  If you’re still unsure, try talking in such a low pitch that you no longer feel the muscles vibrating in your throat as you speak.  With that in mind, every time Michael had to openly speak, I had to choose his words carefully.   Every piece of dialogue he has is stated in the shortest phrases possible in order to match his personality.

                Looking at the other side of the coin, the Meryl Lewis character is spunky, upbeat, and impulsive.  She’s the kind of person that speaks her mind and isn’t afraid to do it.  Because she has such a strong personality, her dialogue has to be equally as tough.  Meryl isn’t a character one would want to be in an argument with.  Her intelligence only compliments her quick wit and strong beliefs.  In all honestly, it’s a lot more fun to write a character as unique as Meryl but there is more of a challenge involved when writing Michael’s dialogue.  Successfully balancing the two makes for a widely entertaining story.

                When actions are silent, it’s up to the character’s voice to drive the story forward.  While the Agent M series is focused more towards action, I cannot stress how important it is to have strong dialogue.  It’s the part of the book where the readers get to personally connect with our heroes and villains and find out what really drives them.  If I could write a book with nothing but action in it, believe me, I’d do it.  However, I know all of that action without dialogue would suffocate the readers after a while.  It’s important to consider just how strongly our words can affect the life of another.  Don’t believe me?  Next time you meet a friend of yours, look them dead in the eyes and tell them “I hate you.”

Go on…  I dare you.


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