Meet Author Joselyn Vaughn today at the Book Boost.
Here's what she had to say about dialogue...
Listen and Respond in Dialogue
In the movie Hitch, he advises his clients that the key to success on their first date is to “listen and respond” – pay attention to what your date is saying and continue the conversation in a similar direction.
Exceptional dating advice, but not so good for writing dialogue in fiction. If your characters listen carefully to each other and respond appropriately too early in the book, they’ll resolve their problems by chapter two.
This happened in the first manuscript I attempted. The hero asked the heroine what was wrong and she said, “I’m hiding because my uncle wants to marry me off to his son and steal my fortune.” So the heroine wasn’t so good at keeping her own secrets, possibly putting her in the ‘too stupid to live’ category, and there was no longer any mystery between the characters. The scene also read like an interrogation transcript – incredibly boring. I gave up on the book by chapter four.
How can you keep writing about a heroine who will tell any stranger her dire circumstances especially when she is supposed to be in hiding? How did she know he wasn’t a spy sent by her uncle? Definitely a story for the box under the bed.
In real life – and what we want to represent in dialogue – we avoid answering questions; we avoid conversations that make us uncomfortable; we skirt around issues we don’t want to discuss. We don’t answer the question asked, we ask our own question or we change the subject slightly or completely.
We also mishear and misunderstand and misinterpret. We think the person is referring to one thing and they are really talking about something else. In Courting Sparks, my heroine ended a conversation with the hero by saying “You’re not Aaron.” She was reminding herself not to get the two men confused by attributing feelings she used to have for one to the other. He thought she was saying she was still in love with her exboyfriend.
The result was that their conflict became more complex and led the hero to make a decision about what he was willing to endure for their relationship. Your characters will do the same. They hear what they hear and respond the way they do because of their backgrounds and the perspectives they bring to the conversation. Adding complexity to the dialogue also adds complication to your storyline and takes you in new directions.
A Note from the Book Boost: This is a great blog topic and so very true. Kind of reminds me when we tell our husbands one thing but they "accidentally" hear something entirely different. Or don't hear us at all, more likely! Thanks for joining us today. Please tell us more about your book.
Dusting off the ashes of a failed relationship, Daphne Morrow decides she is ready to date again. But when her scorched prom photos are discovered to be the ignition point for a small forest blaze, marking her as the prime suspect for the arson, she finds they’re not the only part of her past sparking interest. After a friend’s wedding provides a romantic interlude with her longtime friend Noah Banks, Daphne tries to explain away her attraction to him: the atmosphere of the wedding, his resemblance to her ex, his heroic efforts as a volunteer firefighter. Still, their desire just won’t sputter out.
When the arsonist strikes much closer to home, Daphne fears she must risk Noah’s friendship to find the culprit and clear her name. She’ll know their love is real if his interest isn’t put out by her need to uncover the truth.
Sandalwood and a touch of wood smoke.
The scents drifted from behind her and Daphne knew the man was sexy. She closed her eyes as she stood on the corner of the dance floor and breathed deeply. Maybe passing out candy bars for the Dollar Dance wasn’t such a bad thing. Her Magic Eight Ball could be right. For once.
She tried to adjust the neckline of her fuchsia bridesmaid dress to enhance her cleavage, but the double-sided tape holding the mermaid-style dress in place wouldn’t budge.
Sure, when you want the dress to come off, it sticks firmly in place. She sighed. She spun on her bare feet to greet the dream date behind her and stopped so abruptly her basket of candy bars tipped over, spilling chocolate at his feet.
“Noah?” she gasped.
A light blue madras shirt covered his broad shoulders. His dark hair still damp from his shower. She looked at him like she’d never seen him before.
And she saw him almost every day. He was the athletic director and she was an English teacher and the cross-country coach. She was in and out of his office with student eligibility reports and questions about the team schedule. Besides all that, they’d been friends since second grade. She’d never had this reaction to him before. What was different?
Noah bent to pick up the candy. His shirt pulled across his muscular shoulders as he reached for the scattered bars. Daphne continued to stare at him. Water droplets clung to the hair on the back of his neck and she itched to brush them away. She extended the basket for him to dump the bars.
“Fire call?” she said, trying to cover her stunned silence and hoping he didn’t notice her blushed skin.
“Yeah. Out at The Willows. Could have been really bad, but we were able to contain it. Do I still smell smoky?”
Daphne leaned closer and breathed deeply. His sandalwood cologne flooded her nose again. A touch of smoke lingered behind it. She forgot to breathe out.
This was Noah, she told herself. Not George Clooney. Get a grip.
“Your cologne covers it. How much burned?” she asked, stepping away to put some fresh air between them.
Noah shrugged. “The flames kept smoldering in this heat. Hot spots were flaring up all afternoon. Most of the trees are singed. I’m not sure they’ll come back.” He tugged at the front of his shirt as if he still felt the high temperatures.
“I can’t believe The Willows is gone. No more hidden trysts out there. Where will the teens go to make out now?”
“They’ll find some place. They always do. There’s that place by the river, but the landowner is pretty adamant about kicking them out once a month.”
She hugged the candy basket to her chest. Bittersweet memories of The Willows haunted her, now that Aaron was no longer in her life. They’d gone there to do all the things teens do in the shaded alcoves of the draping willow trees. The fire was a relief in a way, another reminder of him gone.
“Was Miranda angry I wasn’t here?” Noah asked.
She glanced at the bride twirling on the dance floor and pushed away the gloomy thoughts. Good ol’ Noah. He could always divert her depressing thoughts. “I think she’ll forgive you.”
Daphne bumped him with her basket of chocolate. “Not to dash your ego, but she didn’t notice.
She was so nervous before the ceremony, she peed every fifteen minutes. I’m glad I didn’t pull bathroom duty this time.”
Noah laughed, the tone soft and deep. “I don’t want to know. Anything else happen?”
“If you’re asking if Max fainted, you owe me ten bucks. He turned green during the solo, but his knees never buckled.”