As I said before, dialogue moves the story. Your characters should be natural and not appear to be stilted to the reader. Imagine yourself talking to a friend about a new restaurant you’ve just visited. The meal was wonderful and the chocolate dessert just out of this world. Would you stand in front of your friend with your arms at your sides, looking straight at her and speak in a monotone? What would your face look like? What would you do with your hands? If you are like me, you can’t speak without using your hands to gesture. We all do that. In the same way, make your characters animate with their gestures. Here’s a scene from Smoke Before the Wind :
“Carrie! I’m so glad I caught you. Come with me to the Art of Espresso. Dean’s waiting for me and he wants us to meet a friend of his.”
“Tori, I have a class in half an hour. If this is another of your blind date ideas, skip it. I’m not interested”
“Look, Carrie, ever since Dave moved across the country to attend Columbia, you’ve been in a slump. He dumped you and it’s time to move on. Don’t let him have that kind of power over you. He’s history.”
“I will, in my own time. Seriously, I just don’t want to date right now. Besides, Dave didn’t dump me-we just agreed to part ways.”
Tori rolled her eyes. “Right. So that’s why you sat by the phone and haunted your mailbox?’
“Okay. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said it like that. I know it hurts, but you gotta let him go.”
The breeze came up and Carrie brushed a wisp of blond hair back from her face. “I’m just not ready to meet anyone right now.”
“Just because Dave was a jerk doesn’t mean all guys are. In any case, I told Dean I’d bring you along. It’ll just take a few minutes. At least say hello. Please?” The last word was stretched out along with a bright smile.
Carrie stopped and glared at her best friend. “Stop begging. All right. I’ll give it ten minutes, and I’m gone. Okay?” She shook her head and began to walk briskly to keep up with Tori’s pace.
1. How do you picture Carrie? Tori?
2. What makes Carrie change her mind?
3. Can you picture their faces, hand movements?
4. What happened between Carrie and Dave? What picture do you get from Tori’s words?
* Next time: Should a Christian writer use swear words to define a bad character, especially one who is not a believer?