clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Sunday, September 30, 2012


I enjoy constructing dialog. I enjoy the process of give and take in my mind. I  enjoy the abrupt abandoning of one topic for another in my characters' speech just as occurs in natural conversation.

I like the natural pattern of speech in my text. 

I am somewhat concerned on rewrite about these breaks. Too abrupt and they become "shock" which I find disruptive to the reader's immersion.

Scene :
 Two characters discussing the leftover pie, the price of corn and the weather then turn to discussing what to do about Uncle Foster's body in the barn. Yes - most killings for purpose in my writing comes in the cold blooded variety.  Characters may react with the physical manifestations of stress following the deed. They may suffer the realization of revulsion at their acts. Nevertheless, they approach the killing and its aftermath as a problem to solve. Perhaps it is a soldier's bias, but it is what I know.

 I've read dialog in other authors' work where this natural twist and turning becomes disruptive to my attention. I've even put books down following such passages.

I tend to read most in the late evening. That hour impacts my desire for complex plot maneuvers expressed in dialog more and more as I grow older and my day job grows increasingly demanding. I'm using brainpower for more than following the plot details of two confused kids whose ambivalence towards their surroundings serves as the counterpoint to the danger they face and the mayhem they invoke.

So, I question my sense of rythm and pacing when I use dialogue to steer the plot abruptly. When I have the urge to soften the turn ... say easing the plot in a different direction rather than putting the wheel hard over and submerging the port rail ... I become a little concerned that it is a contrived and sophomoric means of bridging my intention. My execution seems soft.

Every scene has a purpose. I can manage that quite nicely. It is the transition among elements of that purpose which I now question.

I have some work at the library to do examining other authors whose transitions I remember fondly. 

I regret I did not focus well enough in my English classes on the art of managing the novel. I did quite well at the time. My instructors did not teach from the purpose of illustrating techniques and tactics A from B but focused on broader points. I worked for the premise of whatever pleased the instructor.

Late in my career when I did study for what I found meaningful and stimulating, it lead to a career solving problems I love. This knowledge I was gaining did not at the time satisfy my instructors.

I would make a better teacher now than I would have thirty years ago.  I would also impart a more disciplined study of English works for future authors than my professors provided.

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