Dialogues, Glorious Dialogues
With Christmas looming I have been picking favourites from The Book People’s web site (www.thebookpeople.org). Looking over my shoulder, my 6 year old was snooping around for goodies from girls’ fiction. We amicably agreed on a number of items. Then came THE QUESTION:
“So”, she said, “does Father Christmas know these presents are from you?
“I wrote to him.”
“You wrote to him?”
“Yes, I wrote to him. By email”
She was silent for a bit. And then with a quieter voice: “Does Father Christmas have a Mac?”
“No. No he does not. He has a Toshiba”.
No offence Apple, but a yes didn’t fit with the golden rules of a Dialogue, Glorious Dialogue (made up for the occasion, of course):
- Repetition of questions, implying doubt and subtle distrust
- Repetition of replies, for comic effect
- Repetition, generally due to one interlocutor resisting the attempts of the other to side-track the conversation
- High pitch, low pitch fluidity: you can hear the voice go up and then down at each line
- Sudden change in the flow and unexpected outcome of the dialogue.
A great example is the dialogue between brothers Benny and Bosse (The Hundred year old man who climbed out of the window and disappeared, Jonas Jonasson, Chapter 15) an extract of which I hope will make you buy the book, if you still haven’t, or read the passage again for a chuckle:
“Fifty million. Minus various expenses – for this bus, among other things.”
“Why are you driving around in a bus?”
“We’ve got an elephant in the back.”
“She’s called Sonya.”
Bosse was silent for a few moments. Then he said:
“Is the elephant stolen too?”
“No, you couldn’t say that.”
Bosse was silent again. Then he said:
“Grilled chicken with roast potatoes for supper. Would that be good?”
“I am sure it would,” said Benny.
“Does that include something to drink?” said an elderly voice from inside the bus.
But ending the dialogue blog here would not do justice to the multitude of variants on offer. Look out for my next posts: Dialogue, Elegant Dialogue (Alistair McCall-Smith), and of course Dialogue, Oh No Dialogue (a respectful stab at Mr Follett I am afraid), to redress the karma.
Have you got a favourite dialogue style?
Check out beyond.customline.com for more on dialogue.