Real Characters have one thing in common. Each one has something to say, and won’t let you rest until they get their time on the stage. However, there’s one huge drawback here, which authors face daily.
Have you ever had to sit through a talk given by someone passionate about their issue but not gifted with the style or snap to keep the talk interesting? You probably have, but you don’t remember because you slept through it. And you don’t want your readers to snooze off while your heroine is explaining why she has to have 14 pounds of apples now and not on Sunday.
Fun, snappy dialog is essential to Romances. This banter helps build the relationship between your love interests. Some of my favorite dialog happens between characters who aren’t, necessarily, going to fall in love, but the style and the snap are worth noting. All of the talk between the “Old Farts” in John Scalzi’s Old Man’s War is brilliant. Part of that is due to his gift of picking one aspect and using it as a recurring gag. The one character who realizes he can eat what he wants and goes about trying to cadge extra food from his friends is especially well done.
In real life, my husband and I spend hours of our time laughing at each other’s quips and puns. We’ve been married 19 years (well, in June it will be) and together for 21, so most of the jokes have been heard numerous times. We still laugh. This just doesn’t translate very well onto the page of a novel. Which is odd because we are just as funny as Wade Wilson and Vanessa. D’oh! I wasn’t going to mention Deadpool! Sorry. (Bad Author!) (Worth it.)
The thing is, the dialog has to be appropriate to the time, the place, and the characters. There needs to be an advancement of the story, even if the characters are taking a break and sunbathing nude on top of a building downtown in a little village. This happens all the time, doesn’t it?
Mary Balogh’s Survivor’s Club series Book 5, Only Enchanting, has some of the funniest dialog between two ladies who live in a small town where nothing ever happens of note. This is during the Regency, or actually just following it, and looking out your window when a carriage of a rich man rolls by is just not done. But the women, sisters deeply attached to each other, laugh and joke about the fact they run to the window every time coach wheels are heard in the street. A whole parade of wealthy folks passes by, heading for the large estate and a house party there. The elder of the sisters says that all she would like now is a tiny, discreet, telescope. See how much context I have to give you so the line makes sense? And I bet you didn’t laugh as much as I did when I read it.
So there you are. Write that dialog and keep your characters from being boring. As to how to do that, well, here’s some places to pick up the skill.
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.