paddy doyle  says you can learn the most about characters through dialogue. it’s the way people speak that defines them.  but writing good dialogue takes a lot of practice and where it all starts is in eavesdropping.

that’s right, eavesdropping.

when you listen, really listen, to what people say and write it down, verbatim, you create dialogue.  this is difficult for writers because some of us are compelled to correct and dialogue is usually rife with grammatical errors.

e.g.  “Goin to the store.  Want anything?”

contrast this to:

e.g. “I’m going to the store.  Do you want anything?”

two very different pieces of dialogue.  two voices, two characters.  which one fits?

it comes down to trusting your character and letting him be whatever he is, no social working.  it comes down to trusting the dialogue and letting it be whatever it is. and then it comes down to letting go.

this is fucking hard.

an excerpt from James Kelman’s novel  HOW LATE IT WAS, HOW LATE:

So fuck it.

His back, it was sore.  The spine especially; down there at the bottom, roundabout the lower rib.  He had to stand up.  He stood up.  He stepped half a pace to the left, then worked his hands in where it was hurting, massaging in with the tips of his fingers.  His right foot kicked against something metal, solid.

Sit down.  Samuels:  sit down.

I need to stretch my legs.

Just sit on yer arse.

Can I no even get standing up?

Thirty seconds.


That’s twenty of them.

Twenty’s enough, said Sammy and he reached to feel for the chair and sat down.   Fuck them.  (page 18)

are you afraid of what your characters say and do?  i know i am.