28 February 2008

Dialogue



JW: "The penultimate chapter in my new book, How Fiction Works, is entitled "Dialogue".

JH: "Great. I've been particularly anxious to hear what you have to say on that critical topic."

JW: "It's a pretty short chapter, actually."

JH: "Oh, I see."

JW: "I do like good dialogue."

JH: "Okay. I believe you. Can you give me a brief summary then?"

JW: "Yes."

JH: "Ahem. Well would you?"

JW: "Sure. Here goes: 'Henry Green writes good dialogue. He never intrudes on his characters' speeches by using excess explanatory words like "he said knowingly", or "she sputtered angrily", or "he explained", etc. Like a good dramatist, he lets the words speak for themselves, often doing double duty in the narrative."

JH: "That's it? Isn't there anything else?"

JW: "Well, V.S. Naipaul writes good dialogue, too. Except when he doesn't."

[Crickets]

2 comments:

Amateur Reader said...

Henry Green does write great dialogue. But that isn't much of an argument, is it?

I certainly do a lot of this on my blog - "look, isn't this wonderful" - but I don't pretend it proves anything.

Steven Augustine said...

The "crickets" moment: sheer comedic mastery.