Dialogue + 4 Things #Authors Should Consider Regarding What Your Characters Know?

Massimo Marino head shot
Today’s Featured Friday post is a guest post from sci-fi writer Massimo Marino, an award-winning author and scientist. He’s going to talk a bit about dialogue between characters in your novel as well as how they know what they know. He’ll also offer up a few suggestions for authors to consider when creating characters’ personas.

Take it away, Massimo!

The Most Boring Dialogue Ever

Last week I took the tram from CERN to the Cornavin Train Station. It’s a ride of some twenty minutes. At one stop, two young women sat near me. The moment they started to talk I knew they were American: they sprinkled their sentences with “like” and “you know.” I started counting; in five minutes they used the two phrases over a hundred times. “Like — you know — he called and, you know, he said — like — do you want, like, to do something?” “Like what did ya say?” “Like I told him, you know, like…” and on and on and on. Besides wanting to beat the story out of them without all the “likes” and “you knows” it proved me the point that we can’t copy real dialogue. Writers cannot write the way some people talk. Dialogue needs to sound true to the ear — a dilemma at best —  and, yes, I admit I eavesdrop all the time, and watch, and have no desire to reform.

But it’s a great way to get story ideas and create personas for characters.

For example, how many times you heard the following conversation? It must be repeated millions of times each day, but it makes for boring reading.

“Hello,” she said.

“Hello,” he said.

“How are you?” she asked.

“Fine,” he replied.

(*Yawn*)

One of the reason dialogues like this fail is because they don’t serve one of a dialogue’s primary purposes: move the story plot forward.

What to Do to Create Knowledgeable Characters

Before learning the ropes, many novices make the mistake of putting in too much information, things the other speaker knows already.

“Honey, I cannot take you to your Auntie Helen’s tonight, who lives next door at 113 Embury Avenue, and is married to your Uncle Ed. The car we bought only last year broke down; the red Mustang I use to drive you to work at the same supermarket as our neighbor, Sam.”

No character would ever talk like that! However, even though I exaggerated, I’ve seen things close to that in the first efforts from writers at their first words, especially in sci-fi stories.

Information should be imparted, but it has to be based on information the other speaker doesn’t know.

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How Re-Uniting With My Son Impacted My Life

Last week, I told you my true story about how I nearly died last summer. I am now going to tell you how reuniting with my son, J, has impacted my life for the better.

Re-uniting with him has literally changed my life!

This is a picture of the book that changed my life after re-uniting with my son.

This is a picture of the book that changed my life after re-uniting with my son.

Once We Re-united

One phone call led to another and we began talking on a regular basis.

Not arguing, but talking.

It was wonderful! Slowly, J let me back into his life.

We talked, we laughed, we cried.

I had always tried to be a good mother to him, and I must have done something right, since J is a non-smoker (I smoke), a drug-free person (he experimented a few times, with a few things, and so did I), a health and fitness nut who watches what he eats and works out all the time (my idea of working out is typing, and I love eating, as noted in my guest post on Hunger for Happiness), and a rare drinker (this he got from me; I am not big on booze).

J also is a positive person who somehow motivates me to want better things for our future. He truly is amazing.

He’s also tall, dark and handsome, since he’s half Spanish (I am a white, Canadian girl with Czech roots… so basically I am a white, Canadian girl!) and he’s pretty muscular, too, from hitting the gym on a constant basis. He won’t let me post a picture of him; he is a private person (I’ve mentioned this before). Anyway, when December rolled around, I asked him what he wanted for Christmas. I’m his mom; I wanted to buy him a gift. (I like giving presents!)

He told me that he didn’t want anything. Huh? Nothing?

Nope. He told me to save my money.

What My Son Wanted for Me

When I pressed him, he told me that he didn’t need anything, but that it was nice that I wanted to get him something. Instead, he said, it would mean more to him if I bought myself something that I needed. That’s what he wanted for Christmas – for me to buy myself something! Read More

Do you need to Get Busy Living?

In May, I happened to take a step that has turned my life around. Actually, I have taken several steps this year (2013), which have improved the quality of my life. I’ve learned a lot this year, thanks to Danny Iny, and I have accomplished a lot, too, especially in the last few months. I have to thank my son, a few friends, and myself, for most of them. Now, I also have to thank Benny Hsu (pronounced “shoe”, not “sue”). 🙂

This is...guess who? Yup, it's Benny Hsu!

This is…guess who? Yup, it’s Benny Hsu!

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How To Turn Your Weaknesses Into Strengths To Make A Good Impression

Have you ever needed to answer a negative question in a positive way? Has an employer ever asked you what your weaknesses are? If you have ever found yourself in a position of trying to make yourself sound “better” than you might truly be, then you need to learn how to turn your weaknesses into strengths!

painter

You can learn how to put a positive spin on your weaknesses with a bit of practice… especially if you are looking for a job. You need to make a good impression. It’s true that you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression. You get one shot at it, and that’s it. In a long list of potential employees, the hire-r needs to know the hire-ee is making a good choice in hiring YOU. Read More

The Largest Number In The World: Can You Count This High?

Ever see the commercial that asks children “What’s the largest number in the world?” The first response is “infinity“, the second is “infinity plus one” and the last response is “infinity times infinity”. As a math teacher, this makes me laugh. Wait until these kids get to high school. Their response will probably be “infinity to the power of infinity”!

can you count this high

Numbers have always fascinated me. Read More