28 February 2008
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?"
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."