I’ve always been in awe of water. It’s so benign, yet so powerful. It’s gentle enough that I let it touch my bare, unprotected skin every morning. And yet, it carved out the Grand Canyon. Rain feeds the plants around our houses and makes everything lush and pretty. Rain — as we’ve seen this week with Irene’s aftermath — can decimate those same houses.
Without enough of it, humans die. With too much of it, we die. Water’s tricky. It’s just about everywhere and can do just about anything…given the right proportions. It’s all about balance.
Kind of like in writing. For me, dialogue is a lot like water. I like reading it. I like writing it. I think people’s actions on the page are more interesting when there’s dialogue to go with it. I use dialogue to show who my characters are as much as to move the plot forward.
Not enough dialogue and the scene falls flat. Too much dialogue and the scene is a big bore. Either one could kill the story’s momentum or even the story itself.
Knowing the power of this writing element doesn’t mean that I don’t fall victim to it. But knowing is half the battle, right? A beta reader recently pointed out two pages of my dialogue that devolved into a yes/no shouting match. Uh, yeah, the scene was drowning. Time for me to step back, see what really needs to be said, and insert some prose islands for my readers.
Does your writing have water? What is it for you?