With my dialogue-writing preference, I think about what inspires me to latch on conversation while sequestering away my prose envy of other writers. I love reading prose, especially smooth prose. To me, the art of smooth prose is an art in itself. But with dialogue, I don’t glide through it. I chew it thoroughly like bubble gum, and when the sugar is out, create obnoxious bubbles to keep it going. Dialogue peels my eyelids back in plays, glues me to the movie screen, and stuffs my poor e-readers or books into my belly like a dragon that hasn’t eaten in a couple of centuries. I’m a nut about dialogue.
As I obsess about what I like about dialogue, mostly what I like is when a pair of characters “play off” one another. My best example is my forever undecided on which film I like better “Goodfellas” or “Casino.” (For the non-fans of gangster films, my terminal affliction started in the 1990’s, dang you Mr. Scorsese). With the former film, there is a biographical narrative: Check. Romance: Check. Action: Check. Dark Humor: Check. Gangster insanity: Check. Gangster usual bad tidy ending: Check. So I think, “Yes, a perfect story.” Then “Casino” comes on and I change my mind.
What could possibly be missing in “Goodfellas,” other than the lead female character is less crazy? Answer: In the film, there isn’t a pair of leading characters to play off the other. The magic captured in the writing, as well as the De Niro/Pesci acting didn’t exist in the Henry Hill story because it wasn’t there. It doesn’t mean that one story is less compelling than the other; but the pair up added an element of tension amongst familiar characters, revealing a breakdown of friendship after three decades.
Why do pair ups entertain? The writer can take two developed personalities and spin the commonalities along with the differences to move the plot. The couple (any kind of couple, animal vegetable or mineral) can lie to one another (Shevata/Zermon in my books), fall in love, fall out of love, have a battle of the sexes, political debates or the tried and true fighting over a woman (or man). However it’s used, as a reader, I find it an important part of character development. While point of view can be compelling, seeing more than one point of view through dialogue can bring intrigue and/or lighten up the pace with humor.
New authors, readers, like writers, have preferences. I happen to like dialogue, and admire prose. No worries, write what you like. Most of the time when people do what they like it’s often their strong point. Stories don’t always have to be dialogue driven, but if they are, you may find a dialogue reader/writer like me that loves it.