Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Writing down the Bones: Talking Heads

Now we're not talking about the band The Talking Heads and I'm sure that dates me a little but I do love them.

Talking heads is when you have too much dialogue and very little description.

Here's an example - an excerpt from Book 8 of the Vespian Way. Heather and Storm have gone undercover as Nusi - Heather and Luprin - Storm:


“A poor excuse. I expect regular contact on regular intervals if you know you’re going to be out of communication.”
“Yes, sir.”
“Is Nusi there?”
“Yes, sir,” she responded. They knew better than to lie.
“You are now co-leader of this group. You two will share the duties and responsibilities over what happens together.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”
“Don’t make me regret this decision.”
“I promise you won’t, sir.” Heather grinned. Now she was his equal. Something that was being communicated to every member as they spoke.
“I expect your updated itinerary first thing in the morning.”
“Yes, sir.” Storm turned off the machine and turned toward Heather. “You found that funny.”
“How does it feel to be on the receiving end?”
“I’ve been there before.”
“Not in a long while.” She pressed a few buttons and revealed the bed. “Nice.”
“And you have been?” He hooked his fingers in her skirt and pulled her toward him.
“More times than I care to count.”
“That is because you don’t follow the rules.”
“I do too.” She jammed her hands on her hips. “Was I wrong in deviating from not contacting headquarters when I saw the opportunity to tag them?”
“I’m not saying that.”
“I always tried to follow the commands passed down from headquarters, but they aren’t always in the field to see what is happening. If I thought I could do it better, or quicker than I did it.”

That is pretty much nothing but dialog - a couple of tags here and there and I hope they make it easy for you to figure out who is talking

To make the scene three dimensional you need to add the place where the characters are. What they might be wearing, or feeling. Show what they are seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching - the five senses. The five senses don't work in every scene - like tasting, if they're not eating you can't always use that but try to work them in as much as possible.


“A poor excuse." Fridon's voice filled the room they were in. "I expect regular contact on regular intervals if you know you’re going to be out of communication.”
“Yes, sir.” Storm kept his face from reacting to the fact his second was now yelling at him. He had trained him well.
“Is Nusi there?”
“Yes, sir,” she responded. They knew better than to lie. The system had probably picked up her heartbeat and let him know there were two people in the small wagon, which is why he asked for her in the first place.
“You are now co-leader of this group. You two will share the duties and responsibilities over what happens together.”
“Yes, sir. Thank you, sir.”
“Don’t make me regret this decision.”
“I promise you won’t, sir.” Heather grinned. Looked like she had already shown that although she broke the rules earlier it was a smart move. Now she was Storm's equal. Something that was being communicated to every member as they spoke.
“I expect your updated itinerary first thing in the morning.”
“Yes, sir.” Storm turned off the machine and turned toward Heather. Who was grinning from ear to ear. “You found that funny.”
“How does it feel to be on the receiving end?” She couldn't keep the laughter out of her voice.
“I’ve been there before.”
“Not in a long while.” She pressed a few buttons and revealed the bed. “Nice.”
“And you have been?” He hooked his fingers in her skirt and pulled her toward him.
The heat of  his hands as it brushed against her skin had her thinking more about the bed than their conversation. “More times than I care to count.”
“That is because you don’t follow the rules.”
“I do too.” She jammed her hands on her hips, her desire forgotten for the moment. “Was I wrong in deviating from not contacting headquarters when I saw the opportunity to tag them?”
“I’m not saying that.”
“I always tried to follow the commands passed down from headquarters, but they aren’t always in the field to see what is happening. If I thought I could do it better, or quicker than I did it.”

Now the scene has more descriptive info. The small details I added should help fill in the blanks about what they were thinking and where they were. Made it more three dimensional and a little easier to visualize. Once I finish the manuscript I'll go back and polish it even more and I plan on posting the scene again so you can see the different changes I'll continue to make on it.

Barb:)


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