I love dialogue. To me it’s the driving force in every story. Unfortunately page after page of characters chatting, regardless of how humorous or informative it is, gets old soon. Most often my characters seem to be hanging around a back porch or kicking back in a kitchen or living room. Narrative and some internal dialogue work well to break up the conversation but my new pet trick is transitional scenes. Usually they’re about a page in length where I take one or more of the characters and put them into a totally unrelated environment to the rest of the story…shopping for groceries, visiting the Wildlife Park, whatever…just as long as it’s a change of scene.
I had completed one of these scenes when something happened that changed the whole approach. I needed something to break the scenes between a Saturday night and a Sunday evening as the same characters are involved at both times. My lead character, Evan, is a collector of everything and one of his favorite haunts is the Sunday morning flea market in Kamloops, British Columbia and this felt like it would be a good transition that could also add background to his character. The original scene was 1,038 words in length. It had Evan checking out a few tables but mostly spending the time internally dissecting a situation that had just occurred in his life. Last Sunday I went to this flea market and came away with a virtual chapter of incredibly funny events and dialogue and it’s all real. I sat down this morning with my original transitional scene and by the end of the session it had become a 3,875 word piece and it still needs work.
Instead of just Evan, four of the central characters now hit the market and run into the same real people and situations that I ran into. It’s a breath of fresh air for all of them and especially for me.
When I take the laptop out into my backyard or to my spot along the riverbank, the change of scene works wonders for all concerned. I see things in a new light and as I see these things, so do the characters.
I know a lot of people have their “writing spot” and normally so do I but I find, even if you just utilize a digital recorder or notepad, getting “out there” refreshes the process and brings the fun back into it.
Besides, nothing beats that certain touch you get from observing real people in real situations and bringing it into your fictional world.