Thursday, 13 May 2010

In the Diaslog Dumps

Diaslog, n.: In fiction, a dialogue whose participants are so plainly reciting what the author wants them to say, that both they and the reader/writer are having trouble stifling yawns.

This is bedevilling the scene I'm writing at the moment. Ugh!

Diaslog, the way I see it, is a more subtle and insidious trap for characters than such obvious faults as Possession By Author, Plot Was I Thinking?, and As You Know Bob infodumping.

In diaslog, the characters are speaking like themselves, and they have sensible reasons for saying what they say. Nonetheless, the rhythm - and perhaps the very continuation - of the conversation feels all off. They might get into any or all parts of this exchange naturally, but right now they're caught in the specific sequence the story requires of them. They’re talking from what I can only call their dramatic holding pattern.

I’ve got a tense public conversation here between two strongly antagonistic characters, and it ought to crackle with tension. The emotional punches and reversals are supposed to come thick and fast: one-two, ONE-TWO, one-two . Instead, as it actually comes out, I’m feeling the same vague anticlimax as I did at the end of the Comet section. That looked better once I was out from inside it. I wonder whether this will?

This whole Fairfields arc, in first draft, is largely an exploratory venture anyway. That means this conversation is bound to be re-written, and I shouldn’t worry about it too much. On the other paw, if it rings too false, it won’t be a useful exploration either - and may actually coarsen my understanding of the characters.

On the one hand, what needs to be said, and in what time. On the other, how and when those people need to say it or button their lips. Information versus action...

I may have to deal with this by spreading the matter of my three sequential chapters before the Wassail, so that they overlap a lot more in time, and the order in which some things happen is different. That’s complete re-write territory, and will create issues enough of its own.

But I’m starting to think it’s the only way to make this heart of the book beat to a true rhythm.

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