I gotta write more scripts. I like the format. When I first started writing on the bus, on my shiny new halfling-size laptop, the first thing I did was a short radio play. Now, after struggling with the novel format, my blog is late this week because I’ve been happily writing a web-comic strip.
The radio play was especially fun because there was no stage action – the whole story had to be told in voice. I like dialogue. I hope I’m good with it. And in scripts, dialogue is the primary way in which character is revealed. And dialogue and action together pretty much make up the whole story.
In novels, the author can get inside the character’s head. Thoughts, feelings, musings… all can be presented easily. You’d think novel writing would therefore be easier – more tools for the author to build the tale.
But there is something to be said for the challenge of working on a limited canvas. (Is a limited color palate a better analogy?) It forces you to be deliberate, to make meaningful and powerful choices in order to get the best use out of the tools you’ve got. Or, to continue the analogy, to use bold colors.
Even in the novel format, dialogue is a powerful tool. I have noticed that good authors reveal new information in dialogue as well as in text. Despite having access to a character’s thoughts, sometimes we don’t learn their conclusions until the character tells someone else. More dramatic that way.
I think part of the appeal of dialogue is it’s how we learn about people in real life. We judge others by what they say and do. It’s all we’ve got, really. So we learn from the time we’re children to decipher words and phrases, to listen for double meanings, to see when people’s words don’t add up, to decide who to believe.
Dialogue therefore commands our attention. It’s our life.