Let’s Talk!

I’ve seen it critiqued many times that authors should dispense with long conversational streams between characters, and focus on action. I agree.

And disagree. 

Action and conflict are necessary in a novel, but so are real people. And real people talk! Particularly when they weave in and out of difficult situations, they talk. My novel features an enemy that most of my characters understand is coming, from the opening paragraphs to the invasion. That brings supposition, complaints as to why us and why are some of us turning on our own to join the enemy? And finally, how do we counter? All this doesn’t just happen in people’s heads, in chase scenes or on the battlefield; now and again, my characters must voice their feelings and impressions. And they must plan.

That’s one of my points. My other, is that nearly every published novel I’ve read, some by rather famous authors, features scenes of endless talk, sometimes to the point of droning on and having me want to ask the characters and the author, “where are you going with all of this? I get it, can we move on now?” But even as a new writer, I understand that characters, like real people must have conversations. Sometimes they grow long and action has to wait a bit–every scene in a sci-fi/fantasy novel can’t happen on the battlefield. A few critiques of my work pointed out long conversations with seemingly no action (they only saw one chapter positioned between 2 action-packed chapters). I have taken them to heart and reduced dialogue, while keeping those elements that I felt were important. But I’ve learned and now tell myself to shorten long conversations, make them good ones and keep them to a minimum. Balance is as important as action when presenting people and their situations to readers. Now having said all this, let’s talk!

2 thoughts on “Let’s Talk!

  1. There are several things that are frowned upon in Sci-Fi – romance, mystery, and conversation. When you start talking instead of shooting bad aliens, people get testy.

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    1. Right, and in writing, it seems that presenting a whole and complete story is frowned upon at times. I understand the notion of “show” versus “tell,” but I cannot write a 300-page battle scene with no character or situational development to speak of. That’s what gaming is for.

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