Dialogue, I have been thinking about dialogue. Words spoken by imaginary characters have filled my head for two weeks. My cold and cough have blocked some of the voices, but today, the dialogue between two characters is a source of amusement. Josie Whistler, old hippy, owner of a festival food van has a lot to say. She talks to her dead mother. She talks to her dead sister. Her daughter wants Josie committed. I am aware Josie’s voice started during a writing prompt in ‘week one” of the Algarve writing workshops.

Last week’s workshop theme was character development. Mary Jezzard facilitated it. I was coughing and so did not go to the welcoming Alvaro de Campos Cafe in Tavira, where the group met. After the workshop, Mary emailed and said “The weather was sunny and warm and we all found characters to write about – some very interesting observations were made – how people sit on a seat – how cyclists ride about in circles – how people look bored when they sit at cafes and so on.”

I heard from others, that the opportunity to reflect and observe characters in Tavira was a fun exercise and that the workshop pushed a few more edges, even boundaries.

I spent some time alone listening to Josie, and I can now see her face, hands and the apparel she prefers.

Yesterday, I finished the dialogue notes for the next workshop on February 1st.

We will be back at the Alvaro de Campos, Tavira library, for the next workshop.

Mary sent me her notes and I have combined them with mine.  I will send them on to the group next week.

Just a thought on dialogue………
One of the things I struggle with is turning formal writing into engaging prose. I get into a flow and then edit, cut, refine. Hearing real speech and creating dialogue from the characters in my head is a kind of segue into a description. I find the flow easier if I understand my character and their world. It becomes easier to write if they can describe their feeling and thoughts.

Josie Whistler, in her breakdown, is sharing both.

I discovered in Novel Shortcuts by Laura Whitcomb, a few examples of simple, but effective dialogue. I love and hate these “how to write books,” but for developing a workshop, they help with providing tested examples.

Here is one she mentions: A memorable scene in Michael Curtiz’s book, Casablanca has a gripping one line of dialogue.

Which is it?

A: Lets toast to our future.

B: I can’t keep my eyes off of you. Here’s to us.

C: Here’s looking at you, Kid.

Was it the words and the clearly defined character that made that line come alive? Yes!

As I am writing, Josie Whistler’s voice wants to comment. As I read, the news, a book or watch a film, Josie has an opinion.

So, I do not need to be convinced that the more a character is fleshed out and understood, the easier it is to write dialog.

All this is just to say –  Next workshop is Monday, February 1st, 2.30pm at Tavira Library. The theme is dialogue.