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Thread: Dialogue

  1. #1
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    Dialogue

    I'm trying to work on dialogue since I received a few comments about it. This is just an example that is in my manuscript. How does it sound? Still too stiff?

    Set up: Mid 19th century mansion. The heir to the family fortune has just found out that his wife is in love with his brother.


    Stomping up the stairs too angry to speak, Lane passed the portrait of himself sitting atop his favorite horse with Iron Heights in the background. He stopped and took a good look at it. His father had it commissioned when he was nineteen years old and he looked so proud and self-assured. Yanking the oil painting down from the wall, he threw the large portrait to the floor, stomped on his own image until the canvas fell away and then he tore at it with his hands until there was nothing but shreds of cloth clinging to the frame. After Lane slammed and locked his bedroom door, he pulled his gun from his nightstand, sat on his bed and ran his hand across the decorative etched metal and the fine ivory handle.

    How could I be so blind? How could I not have seen it?

    He aimed at the wedding portrait he had on his dresser across the room and hit the photograph dead center. The shot rang through the house and sent Cam, Gwen and the servants rushing to his room. Cam banged on his door before he took aim at anything else.

    “Lane! Are you all right? Let me in!”

    “Go to hell!”

    “What was that shot? What did you do?”

    “I killed my last hope.”

    “What? What did you say? Let me in!”

    “Go away, Cam.”

    “No! Let me in! Unlock this door or I’ll break it down!”

    After a moment, he let him in, deciding that he’d love to have a few words with his brother.

    “Send everyone else away!”

    Outside the door, Cam indicated that the rest of them should disperse, but Gwen cried out, “No! You cannot go in there! He’ll kill you, I know it!”

    “Gwen, let go of me! I must see to my brother. Wait downstairs!”

    “No! He’s completely mad and he has a gun!”

    “Gwen! Stop it! Let me go! I need to make sure he doesn’t harm himself.”

    “I don’t care if he does! Just stay here!”

    Her words shot through Lane as if they were on the end of a bullet. After the initial shock of truth, he felt strangely calm. A cold, dark thought formed in his mind. I may never have her love, but she and I will always be united. Always connected by a disgusting dark secret.

    When the door swung open, Gwen and Cam stepped back with surprise. Lane?” Cam said calmly. “May I have the gun?”

    “What? This?” he said with a smile, holding up the gun and waving it a little. “You want this?”

    “Please, don’t go in there!” Gwen begged. Cam shook her grip off his arm, so she then turned to Lane. “Please, don’t hurt him. You are angry with me not him.”

    Smiling, he addressed his wife in a tone that belied his rage. “I am not angry with you, my dear. Why should I be angry? Have you done anything to warrant my anger?”

    “Leave her be, Lane. I’ll come in. We’ll talk.” He turned to Gwen and ordered once more, “Wait downstairs!”

    “Why should the lady not hear our discussion? She is welcome in my room anytime. She’s always had an open invitation to visit my chambers. Not that she ever cared to. Have you even seen the inside of my room, Gwen?”

    She stared at him afraid to answer.

    “Well? Have you?”

    “N-n-no.”

    “What a pity. There are twenty-two rooms in the house and you’ve only seen twenty-one. Please, come in. Make yourself at home.”

    Gwen and Cam didn’t move.

    “Come in. I insist!”

    “Lane, give me the gun and we’ll talk.”

    “Again you request my gun,” he said calmly. “First my wife and then my weapon. Shall you steal my horse next?” He scoffed.

    “Just give me the gun and we’ll sit down and discuss this misunderstanding. All right?”

    “He’s gone insane. He’s a lunatic!” Gwen said under her breath.

    “Please, do have a seat. The three of us should discuss some things. But, there is no need to be impolite, is there?” Lane glowered at Gwen. “I see no need for name calling. We are not children.” His strange politeness and calm demeanor did not mask his distress.

    When they made no move toward the seating area, Lane ordered, “Have a seat,” and then indicated the area with his gun.
    “All right. All right. Put the gun down, brother. We’ll discuss whatever it is you want, but stop this madness.”

    They sat on the sofa and Lane sat in the chair facing them. “You know what I find interesting? Look where you two sit and look where I am left to sit. Yes, the whole thing is ironic. The two of you on the loveseat. And me? All by myself in a chair.” He chuckled.

    “Lane, please--” Gwen said.

    He glared at her. “It’s always, ‘Lane, please!’ Lane, please go away. Lane, please get out of my bedroom. Lane, please do not touch me. What is it this time? Lane, please shoot yourself, spare your brother and leave the two of us to marry?” His calm façade gave way and left his face red.

    Cam stood up. “That’s enough of that!”

    “Is it? Is it, really, little brother? Enough? Or perhaps it’s not enough. Maybe you need to kill me yourself. Is that why you want the gun? You’d like to do the honor of pulling the trigger and ending my life?” Lane pointed the gun at him. Gwen jumped up and stood next to Cam who pushed her protectively behind him and then put his arm out to hold her in place.

    “Stop it, Lane! I would never kill you and you know it.”

    “You would never kill me? Brother, what you did was worse than that. You let her destroy my soul.”

    “Your soul? What are you--”

    “Shut up!” Lane shouted, but then his voice became calm again. “You could’ve taken the business. You could have taken Iron Heights. You could have taken any fortune that father left to me, but instead you took the one thing, the only thing, that mattered to me in this whole world.” His voice cracked and betrayed the devastation he tried to cover with poise.

    “Lane, I didn’t--”

    “You didn’t what?” he shouted. “Sleep with her? Is that the lie you meant to tell me? Perhaps all this time my wife refused my company in favor of yours. All this time, I thought it was me. I thought something was wrong with me. However, it wasn’t me at all, was it? There is something wrong with you!” He pointed the gun at Cam’s chest and nudged him backward until he and
    Gwen were seated on the sofa again.

    Gwen wiped her eyes and said, “Lane, listen to me. Our marriage, it was not right from the beginning. It was all a mistake and I--”

    “Gwen! No!” Cam snapped.

    “What’s this? Do go on, Gwen. This I must hear. Tell me what a mistake it was to marry me. Tell me.”

    “I was only saying that you and I never should have… I never--”

    “Just say it, you little viper. Say you never loved me!”

    She couldn’t do it. Not when he had a gun pointed at the man she loved.

    “Stop it! I am through with this game now, Lane.” Cam got up from the couch. “Shoot me! Go ahead! Let her go and shoot me!”

    “No!” Gwen stood at Cam’s side. The sight of the two of them ready to give up their lives for each other made Lane nauseous.

    “Gwen, would you take his place? If I could only shoot one of you? You would rather it be you?”

    “Yes!”

    “No!” Cam shouted.

    “Relax, little brother. I would never shoot a lady. A treacherous, deceiving, wife-stealing brother? That I might consider, but never a lady.”

    Lane put the gun to Cam’s head and cocked the trigger. Changing his mind, he quickly withdrew it and put it to his own, then to Cam’s again. Suddenly, he chuckled and said, “Why, I find that fascinating! Look, see what I mean.” He put the gun to Cam’s temple and then to his own once again. “When the gun is at your head, the little lady looks beside herself with terror, but when it’s at mine she looks relieved. Watch! Terror. Relief. Terror. Relief.”

    “Stop it! Please,” Cam begged.

    Lane dropped his arm to his side, but still held the gun. “I don’t believe I shall give either of you the satisfaction. You want me dead so you can be free to marry my wife? You’ll have to kill me yourself. However, you have a conscience and you might have a few qualms with murder, but your lover? She’d kill me without a second thought. I would wager that if I gave her this gun right now she’d blow my ****ing head off!”

    No one moved for a moment and then Lane walked to his bed. He sat down with his shoulders slumped in defeat. “Just leave me.”

    “No! I will not.” Cam said.

    “For fear I’ll kill myself?”

    “Well, yes.”

    “Fear not, little brother. The urge to die has passed. I just cannot bring myself to give my wife the one gift she desires above all else. Now, leave me. You have my word that I will not kill myself…or anyone else.”

    “Give me the revolver then,” Cam said with his hand out.

    “No, I don’t believe I shall do that either. You see this beautiful gun? This!” He lifted and waved it just a little. “This has sentimental value. My loving wife gave it to me on my last birthday. Perhaps she always meant for me to use it to eradicate her one adversary, her one obstacle in the way happiness. A beautiful gun with which to kill oneself. Why, it’s like poetry!”

    “Give me the bullets,” Cam persisted.

    “If I comply, you will never set foot in here again. Because if you do, you shall never walk out.”

    Cam wrinkled his brow. There was something altogether different in the sound of his brother’s eerily composed voice and the miserable smile he wore, but he knew he had to get the ammunition away from him.

    “Yes. You have my word. I shall never enter your room again.”

    Lane looked at Gwen. “You? You need not take such an oath. For I know you have never desired anything less than to cross my threshold.” He scoffed and then emptied the chamber and placed the bullets in his brother’s outstretched hand.

    Gwen and Cam hurried out the door and left Lane sitting on the edge of his bed. As soon as he heard the door click shut, he put the empty gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

    “If I’m already damned my little lady, I’m following you all the way to hell.”



  2. #2
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    Re: Dialogue

    I know others will probably disagree, but I like the dialogue. It feels real and interesting to me. In a few places it is a tad stiff and could be loosened up a bit, but on the whole I enjoyed it.

    Do me a favor, thought, and changed nauseous to nauseated. Nauseous means something that makes you sick to your stomach. Nauseated means feeling sick to your stomach.

    Mark

  3. #3
    Belinda T.
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    Re: Dialogue

    I see some improvement and I encourage you to keep writing. You have an interesting premise. Be consistent: watch for I am/I'm, I did/I'd, I will/I shall, etc. - you interchange them throughout and that annoys this here reader. :0

  4. #4
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    Re: Dialogue

    I agree with the others that this could use some tightening. I felt pulled, but I wanted it to move faster, less back and forth, less repetition. (e.g, “He’s gone insane. He’s a lunatic!” Gwen said under her breath." could simply be “He’s insane,” Gwen muttered.)
    You might also take a look at your point of view. You open with Lane's POV, then later you shift to people gathering outside his door (which he couldn't see), and then you're in Cam's head, telling us what he thinks. You may be trying for omniscient POV, but I don't get the sense of an overarching narrator; it's more like shifting third person.

  5. #5
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    Re: Dialogue

    Christine, the others have good advice for you. I like what you've done (for the most part). Mind you, I didn't read all the way thru, but that may just lean on what jayce wrote about tightening this up. Even though true back-and-forths may go down as you've written (long and drawn out a bit), in re: reading material should be less. But good job.

  6. #6
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    Re: Dialogue

    Mark - Thank you for your kind words and suggestions. I appreciate the time you've taken to read what I post. I did change nauseous to nauseated. Thanks so much!

    Melinda - Thank you for your encouragement. I truly appreciate any advice you can give.

    Jayce - I'll try and tighten up the dialogue so it's not repetative. Thanks for your input. I do listen!! POV is a whole other animal that I haven't quite learned to tame, but I'm learning.

    Patrick - I agree. I need to fix that problem. I appreciate you reading however much you did. Your advice is always welcome.

  7. #7
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    Re: Dialogue

    Christine,

    You have a great attitude and a willingness to learn, which is a great asset to any writer. All writers, no matter how successful, can always learn more. No writer gets it correct the first time.

    After reading both your excerpts, I would love to read the whole book. I think it would be something I'd enjoy. You have the skills to be published. That's clear to me. If you work on editing, you will sell this book. I know it.

    Mark

  8. #8
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    Re: Dialogue

    Hi Christine,

    I have to admit I didn't read it all. I couldn't get past:
    'Yanking the oil painting down from the wall, he threw the large portrait to the floor, stomped on his own image until the canvas fell away and then he tore at it with his hands until there was nothing but shreds of cloth clinging to the frame'

    As a painter I can tell you canvas is NO ordinary cloth and it takes a lot of effort to rip apart. It will strech, it will matt and the edges will damage but bare hands often do little to damage the canvas. Someone would need to hold it down with their foot and really force the fabric to give away. True, once weakened, it will come apart, but honestly, it takes a lot of effort. That is why painters use it. It takes paint well and is VERY strong. Think about all the wars, all the thefts, all the battles, fires etc., throughout history and yet most paintings, more or less, have remained in one piece. Because I couldn't imagine this I couldn't read any further.

    Perhaps you could change this to taking the painiting down and bashing it, fame still in one piece, against the stair railing? forcing the fame and the fabric to give? Anyone who has worked with canvas would have a hard time in believing this scene and if it's at the beginning, would put the novel down there and then. If it was in a later scene in the novel, I would be disappoointed and then (again) put it down, never to finish the novel, quite disappointed.

    To me it kind of like when watching a movie and two blue eyed parents have a brown eyed child who is supposed to be their 'natural' child - I cannot suspend the disbelief and the scene/story is over there and then.

    It's just a little thing and from the above comments, you have something worthwhile, I just couldn't read past that one line.

    Hope this helps.
    if the wine is sour – throw it out

    SatyricalRaven

  9. #9
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    Re: Dialogue

    OMG! I really should take advantage of the editing feature MUCH more.... Opps!
    if the wine is sour – throw it out

    SatyricalRaven

  10. #10
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    Re: Dialogue

    There's an editing feature?

    *_*

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