Friday, October 26, 2007

Writing Style

As I've mentioned in previous posts, my writing tends to be heavy on the introspection. I have no problem churning out sentence after sentence, paragraph after paragraph of a character's internal thoughts. It comes easily to me but I end up having to cut a lot of it...because I understand that for some readers, it drags. This is definitely the comment I see most from my critique partner: Get us out of her head!

On the other hand, I tend to struggle over dialogue. I'm hardly ever happy with the first pass, sometimes not even the second. I pour over the conversations between characters, trying to keep the voices different, the words and attitude authentic, to not say too much but still say enough. And eventually I get it where I like it.

Lately I've been wondering if the reasons for the above are because of my personality. I've always been sort of a loner, always happier as a kid with my head in a book than playing with my brother and sister, almost always would rather stay in than go out, read than watch TV. Even my job--when I had one--was the sort where you mostly work on your own. And as for friends, I'm not the type to call them up everyday, just to check up. We can go for weeks without talking. I spend a lot of time alone, with just my thoughts for company.

Could this be the reason I'm having so much trouble with the dialogue? The reason my characters tend to overthink instead of interact? If it is, I guess I need to start striking up random conversations.


Steve Malley said...

Nothing wrong with dialogue troubles. Plenty of excellent writers couldn't 'talk' their way out of a paper bag: HP Lovecraft, Candice Bushnell and Ian Fleming among them.

It's a mix of strengths! :-)

Sally Lawton said...

Maybe you have a point, because I don't ever shut up talking and never have a problem writing dialogue... it's everything around the dialogue I struggle to get right!

liz fenwick said...

You need to sit in coffee shops more and listen......just listen :-)

Christine d'Abo said...

I think it might be more about listening to other people's conversations rather than having them. Listen to TV shows to, paying attention to how the characters speak.

I've been told I do dialogue well, but very rarely do I have introspection. I always have to go back and add it. We all have things we struggle with. :)

Barrie said...

Alyssa, interesting thoughts. I'm really chatty and don't have too much trouble writing dialogue. I do sometimes follow people around stores (like bookstores where I just look like I'm browsing instead of indulging in sketchy behaviour) and jot down what they're saying. Wow. That was a l-o-n-g sentence!

Vicki said...

I'm more dialogue driven. I can't write pages of it. Then have to go back and layer in the scene. Internal thoughts are too bad for me but that's where I start worry about the whole show not tell thing. :)

Stephanie said...

The dialogue thing is interesting. I don't seem to have an issue getting it out, but I wonder whether the readers are getting what I'm trying to convey. I don't know so much how I'd do with listening to tv shows or how others have conversations. That would probably be odd for me! However, I pick a fav author, a scene, and then I see what works.

Like you, I tend to write a lot within my characters' heads. I don't think it's necessarily bad, just different! The only problem comes in the fact that I don't balance my plot with this. Steve mentioned how some writers can't talk their way out of a paper bag, but I'll go with Julia Quinn in saying that I can't PLOT my way out of a paper bag.