Thoughts on Dialogue

It can be difficult to read scripts. Mostly based on dialogue, scripts represent how people speak with incorrect grammar, word usage and meanings.

“Mishon: A Horse With No Name” is dialogue driven.

The story may not be a script, but it is a visual narrative.

It can be tricky trying to capture that authenticity of a person’s speech, with slurs, stutters and intonations. Many people speak English colloquially. This can create difficulty in reading dialogue. There is a natural tendency to want to correct poor grammar and any imperfections that appear in the text; however, if the reader heard the dialogue in a film, play or radio, there would be less criticism of grammar or speech, and more focus on the character’s traits.

In the blog post “Mishon: A Horse With No Name,” the main character’s language is difficult to read and the structure of the sentence seems awkward, but when read aloud this dialogue comes alive:

“I had to. I was under her roof.” (Beat) “You know when you’re a child, you are at your parents’ mercy. What they decide goes. It doesn’t matter of your innocence or whether if you’re old enough to understand to disagree, you still don’t pay the bills or rule the house. You have to follow even if your heart tells you it’s wrong.”

Not every story comes neatly packaged with all the ends tied. Trying to reflect how life is by constructing a story to replicate life, it doesn’t necessarily come with all the questions answered. There can be a lot of ambiguity.

Returning to the post, “Mishon: A Horse With No Name,” Mishon tells how his father was out in the woods yelling “Mee-shine.” There is no clear explanation for his father’s behavior. This is purposely done. In real life, stories are passed down and are accepted as truth, regardless of actual proof. No explanation is necessarily offered or expected. The stories are what they are.

Creating a story that keeps the reader engaged, despite potential difficulty in reading, is an art unto itself. Sometimes the story’s construction doesn’t work; therefore, editing the smallest changes to a story can make the biggest difference in the story’s development. These changes strengthen the story, while making the storyline more cohesive.

Going back to the first post, in the very beginning of “The Birth of a Story,” a slight change was made in this sentence:

I finally came to a gas station and asked if they could help me get my truck that was up the road and fix the driver’s side door, which wasn’t hinging properly.

The conjunction in italics was added later as a form of foreshadowing. In other words, it was edited after the entry was posted. This slight editing change made a difference in the story, since it explains why the main character fell out of his truck in the third blog post: “The Chat and Chew.”

Writing is learned in the course of the editing process. Ideas are further developed, reconstructed or are thrown out entirely. New ideas also spring from editing. Writing with the mindset of going from point A to point B, the author may find that going to an unknown point—point C—is where the story needs to go before going back to point B.

In the end, the story makes sense even if the information wasn’t explicitly given. The audience forms the connection with the information presented in the storyline. Building the foundation of a story allows the story to take on a life of its own, thereby allowing it to direct the author. In effect, the story tells itself.