Active Dialogue means Active!

One last note to self before I turn in for the night.  I have been struggling with the feeling that my story is getting a little flat.  When I was talking to a friend on face book, I realized WHY the story was starting to feel a little flat.

I do an excellent job (biased here, I’ll let you post your opinion in a sec) at keeping the descriptive narrative of the story moving.  Keeping it interesting, fresh, and providing enough detail without bogging the you down in the morass of my imagination.

Example:  Out of the Darkness  – the opening to the chapter “Guards”

The squad leader was happy to turn this strange man over to the quartermaster for the time needed to get his uniform made up. He had expected the newly named Nameless to dress before following him through the public corridors. No one in his experience enjoyed parading naked in public. Nevertheless, the strange man the captain had just signed into the force had not batted an eye when he was ordered to follow, and to bring along his possessions. He had scooped them up (along with the bowl, but the quartermaster would see to its return), and done just he had been instructed to do. He had followed docilely enough, not looking left or right as if he did not care who saw him in his undressed state. Uncertain if this was sheer bravado, or if the man truly did not have any modesty, he added another item to the growing list of things this stranger was going to have to be given instruction in if he were to survive in the free world. Surely, slaves – even fighters – were subject to modesty! However, seeing the look on the quartermaster’s face had been well worth his own personal embarrassment for having to escort someone who had clothes… just not on them… through the general population of Headquarters.

Now, when it comes to dialogue, I can keep up with the verbal repartee, but I keep falling flat with the other half of the dialogue – the nonverbal.  Going to have a TON of fun with Into the Sunlits because this book is primarily dialogue driven.

Example (as the dialogue is written now): Into the Sunlits – About halfway into the chapter “I am not leaving”

“Help may I?”  He asked.

The other jerked around, his heavier tread revealing him someone who had never been in the Sands, “Nameless?”

Nameless nodded, wary of the other man.  The clothes and his bearing set off alarm bells.  He steeled himself, forcing his eyes to meet the other’s squarely.  He also managed to keep his legs from dropping him to the floor automatically in response to being in the presence of a master.

“You do not need to know who I am.  Those I represent, however, sent me to negotiate for your removal from the Melkreschen Realm in a peaceful manner.  Lobach has paid his price for letting you go, as has Demak.  You can either go peacefully, or painfully, but you will be leaving this realm.”

Nameless let a small smile play across his face.  The same one he used when he faced someone in the Sands who showed enough talent to make his matches more enjoyable.  “No.”

“The fact you are leaving is not under debate.  How you leave is what I am to negotiate.”

“No.”

“No is not an option.  Do you want me to spell out what would happen if you were to stay?”

“No.”

“Then you will leave?”

“No.”

“Do you know any other word besides. ‘no’?”

“You speak what all want.  I leave here not.  Leave will when Silk to Tal Jas Arena moves only.  Try might, try fail will.  Know words enough, well enough you to tell ‘leave not am’.”

The other man, rocked to his heels by Nameless’ almost eloquent reply, frantically reordered his thoughts.  He had been informed that Nameless was a typical champion with barely enough vocabulary to understand the demand for him to leave the realm.  The fact that he intended to bring his Silk – the other escaped convict – back to the Arena where he should never have left was surprising.

“So, you will not leave, you will not listen, and you have every intention of bringing your Silk back to the Tal Jas Arena for proper sentencing?”

“Know of sentence nothing.  Silk debuts tonight.  If survives, he trains for Trials.  Graduate to Runner I have, Trials first Silk will be.  Honor She who saw my Trials if return Her Arena do.  Leave not here, train here will.”

Now, let’s revisit this same excerpt, and make this an active, rather than a static dialogue. (Additions in color)

“Help may I?”  He asked.

The other jerked around, his heavier tread revealing him someone who had never been in the Sands, his eyes traveling over the clashing shades of yellow, “Nameless?”

Nameless nodded, wary of the other man.  The clothes and bearing of the stranger set off alarm bells.  He steeled himself, forcing his eyes to meet the other’s squarely.  He also managed to keep his legs from dropping him to the floor automatically in response to being in the presence of a master.

“You do not need to know who I am.  Those I represent, however, sent me to negotiate for your removal from the Melkreschen Realm in a peaceful manner.  Lobach has paid his price for letting you go, as has Demak.  You can either go peacefully, or painfully, but you will be leaving this realm.” As he spoke, the stranger leaned possessively against the book case built into the crystalline wall.  His soothing voice dripping command, to which Nameless had to remind himself he was free, and did not have to obey this person.

Nameless let a small smile play across his face.  The same one he used when he faced someone in the Sands who showed enough talent to make his matches more enjoyable.  “No.”

“The fact you are leaving is not under debate.  How you leave is what I am to negotiate.” The man stepped away from the book case, his eyes intent on Nameless, never wavering as if he were trying to peer into the soul of his victim to find the deep, dark, hidden secrets for personal gain.

Stepping further into the room, his hackles rose in defiance, “No.”

Stepping forward to meet the unvoiced challenge, the stranger replied, “No is not an option.  Do you want me to spell out what would happen if you were to stay?”

“No.” Nameless continued to move forward, his tread silent, his posture accepting the challenge, his mind winding through the restrictions Vergol had given him trying to find a way to unleash his temper, even just a little bit.

His voice giving away the hope he felt, “Then you will leave?”

“No.”

“Do you know any other word besides. ‘no’?”

“You speak what all want.  I leave here not.  Leave will when Silk to Tal Jas Arena moves only.  Try might, try fail will.  Know words enough, well enough you to tell ‘leave not am’.”

The other man, rocked to his heels by Nameless’ almost eloquent reply, frantically reordered his thoughts.  He had been informed that Nameless was a typical champion with barely enough vocabulary to understand the demand for him to leave the realm.  The fact that he intended to bring his Silk – the other escaped convict – back to the Arena where he should never have left was surprising.

“So, you will not leave, you will not listen, and you have every intention of bringing your Silk back to the Tal Jas Arena for proper sentencing?”

“Know of sentence nothing.  Silk debuts tonight.  If survives, he trains for Trials.  Graduate to Runner I have, Trials first Silk will be.  Honor She who saw my Trials if return Her Arena do.  Leave not here, train here will.”

This still isn’t quite right, but it is a start in the right direction, and reveals what I mean about active dialogue.  And I only have 60 or so pages to re-read and edit IN action.  Probably won’t get around to it until I finish the entire book however.  Mostly because I am having enough trouble getting through writing two or three pages per day.  I don’t want to sacrifice what momentum I am building up by making such a hard stop and going back to the beginning.

What do you think of the changes?  Do they make things better?  Worse?  Interested to hear some feedback.

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10 thoughts on “Active Dialogue means Active!

  1. I think the changes are an improvement. A few nits: I wouldn’t start two lines one after another with the word “stepping.” I also found it a bit jarring to be reading a conversation between two characters called “Nameless” and “the stranger.” One of these vague referents at a time would probably be fine but both of them together threw me out of the story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • K.L. I appreciate your comment. Dialogue (and making it active) is still a personal demon I’m working on conquering. In the snippet I pulled out, I must have rewritten it about 4 times before it finally registered what was wrong.

      In regards to your “nits” (which I can fully understand, actually):

      In the context of the story, the reference to Nameless makes a bit more sense, as this has been established as the character’s name.

      I’m not sure, but I think in the final edit, the duplicated word was also fixed, though I’ll be more than happy to go back and double check. When I wrote this post, I was pulling from the first draft.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t worry, it will. I was that way when I first started my blog and then it just took off, one day! Some people don’t just focus on one thing, some people just blog about their day or whatever comes to mind. There is no right. There is no wrong. It’s your blog to do whatever you want to do with it. I find blogging very therapeutic for me with all my chronic illnesses and pain. Take care.:)

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    • Thank you for your kind words. I know part of the reason the blog hasn’t settled down is because if I let it, it would just be a spammy advertisement for my books. Yes, I am proud of them, but I also know these works need a chance to percolate out into view without me causing a big scene and turning people off from investigating them further.

      So, I wander around all over the mental space to keep myself otherwise occupied. (Possibly similar to your reasons? Take the mind off the bigger, real life monster?)

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  3. Thanks for sharing. I enjoyed this post and look forward to following your blog. I’m chronically ill and that’s what I mostly blog about, but I don’t only follow blogs about sick people. I enjoy reading all kinds of blogs, a wide variety available, right here at WP. Take care 🙂

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