Discussing Dialogue

Often we, the Paddle Creek Writers Group, meet at St. Louis Bread Co (called Panera Bread in other areas) to write and chat and eat and pretend we are writing.

This was the case on a recent Thursday afternoon/evening.

Behind me were two young men having a conversation. I could not tear my ears away.

talking heads

I’m not sure if they were very new friends and in the getting-to-know-you phase. Or if one was trying very hard to impress the other or perhaps it went both ways. But I do know this: people DO NOT talk to each other the way these two spoke.

They began talking about a recent job offer one had received. Then it went to talking about Jesus, which is always nice to hear in the younger generation. And then to finances. And on it went. And it went on for a very long time.

Bev and I discussed their discussion after they departed.

Our review of their conversation: If that was written dialogue, people would criticize it as stilted. It didn’t flow. It didn’t feel natural. It didn’t feel friendly. It felt scripted and contrived.

No matter where you are, you can find inspiration for writing. Or instruction. Or good examples of what to do.

Or, in this case, a good example of what NOT to do.

Dialogue is tricky. You would agree with that I am certain, whether as a writer or a reader. Good dialogue takes work and re-work and usually re-work again.

It was a fun afternoon, though: Sitting at a table with my tablet and keyboard out, iced tea nearby, appearing to be very busy yet all the while simply eavesdropping on a conversation offering a private tutorial in dialogue writing.

As a side note, we could not get our regular table.

We hate not getting our regular table.

It is just perfect: perfect lighting, perfect air flow, perfect viewing capacity, nearby outlet, neighbors not terribly close. Perfect. But someone else had it and they were not letting go.

If we had been at our regular table, I would have missed this grand example of stilted, uncomfortable dialogue.

I must remember that next time I can’t get to where I want to get right away. Perhaps something special is going to take place I am in the spot I find myself stuck in. (That’s a preposition at the end of that sentence. I should fix that.)

Patricia Meyers


1 thought on “Discussing Dialogue

  1. Writing in public…a good break from staring at a keyboard in a quiet office. However, I get really out-of-joint when someone takes “our” table! 🙂 But, you’re right…we had a great time eavesdropping. (Very gracious of you not to mention the card game.)

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