Disconnect and Dialogue

He’s a writer. If his talk is anything to go by, he’s a very good writer. In any case, he’s a writer and talks well about aspects of writing.

He was speaking about the purpose of dialogue in performing arts and in writing. He said something I hadn’t paid proper attention to previously. Conversation and dialogue are not the same thing. Conversation is a larger sphere in which the concept of dialogue is located. When it comes to writing, all dialogue is purposeful and intentional. He made the point that it’s not like a lot of conversation that takes place in every day life which tends to feature a lot of wasted words. That was a sobering truth to digest. How tragic is that – a lot of wasted words.

In any case dialogue is purposeful, it is intentional and it should not be included if it does not serve a function of character development and plot movement – which he said previously should be one and the same when it came to storytelling.

What he said afterwards was also particularly intriguing. Namely that in good writing, the dialogue operated best when it was about a disconnect. Harmonious and cordial conversation didn’t always make for the best writing. Compelling scenarios would unfold when there was the element of disconnect – the protagonist facing opposition to her cause; some degree of misunderstanding heightening tension in the hero’s journey. It’s not to say that every piece of dialogue needed to have that – but those types of dialogue, written well, tended to make for the better types of writing dialogue.

Fascinating stuff.

There is something in me that sees great interest in the disconnect as a reason for dialogue. Something is not right. Something doesn’t fit. Something does not have the feeling of completion and being sound. That, for me, nudges towards asking questions and engaging in uncomfortable dialogue. Not that everyone’s up for that of course. Not that I’m always up for it when my daughter asks similarly uncomfortable questions. But I would much prefer that and exploring those issues of disconnect and dialogue than frittering away the gift of communication on wasted words.

That kind of approach has tended to lead to some significant character development …

For His Name’s Sake


C. L. J. Dryden


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