Yes, I am talking about dialog. How many times have you thought of a great answer to a question a day later ? “Why didn’t I think of …” The chance of a neat comeback got lost. What if you are writing? You can rework the scene over and over and get the right snappy word on the page.
Have you ever started the first draft with dialog? You know who your characters are and how you want them to sound; so make them talk. No, you do not have to use quotes. Just add a line between Jack and Jill, and do not correct a thing. This is flow talk; tags come later.
You end up with two pages of conversation. Stop. Go back over these words and pretend you are a one-act play. Read aloud. The male’s voice comes out deep, manipulative, domineering or sexy. You can read this part in different ways as you are trying out your characters and their voices.
How will you read the female’s part? Do you hear a whiny voice, sultry, sexy, a little girl voice in an adult and maybe you come up with something different. Just act out the part. From this little “play period,” you have written a scene. This is where you let your writer-self run wild and don’t be afraid to get as wild as you can.
Pretend you are in a writing class. You have a prompt–the door creaks open and you hear voices. You have 10 minutes to complete a full scene with dialog. Do you stop and wonder about who speaks first or if you should use tags? No. This is a free-write session in dialog.
You want your characters to argue. Okay, start an argument and keep the tension between the characters going for one full page. Print out your page and stand in the middle of the room you picture them in. Argue loud. Argue angry. Argue with a hit of suspense. Go at this full speed. (P.S. you might want to turn the TV up.)
Make certain each character gets their share of dialog. Then sit down and think about what happened. Back at your computer, the pages are still on the screen. Your characters introduced themselves to you. You got to hear their own voices through your improve action. You know how they react to each other and some of their problems. Study the improve scene and realize your characters do have minds of their own. Their voices come out their way, not what you wrote for them.
Have a great time with this process and repeat whenever you notice your writing is needs a little dialog shove. If you haven’t attended an Improve Theatre, see if one is near you. There are no scripts. Actors and actresses bounce their thoughts and words off each other. So you can’t go? Well, you have just attended your own improve with this process. Keep the writing fast, furious and get the dialog strong.
Happy Improve Writing.