In my manuscript, OUT OF THE SHADOWS, a final judge said recently that my dialogue between my hero and heroine was a “little iffy”. What the heck does that mean?
So in effort to figure that out, I pulled the dialogue out of the first scene where the hero and heroine had a “date.”
Boy, was I surprised. I could read the dialogue and tell what was going on in most of the story. Then again, I not only wrote the thing, I’ve read it like a zillion times. But something else jumped out at me. The parts where the guy talked didn’t come through…well…sounding like a guy. A tough guy. And it needed to show more of the characters' personalities in the story.
The final judge was an editor and a guy. So he should know.
It made me curious about other authors and their dialogue. Here are examples from a couple of my favorite authors.
“What’s on your mind, Mr. Calebow? Other than the obvious.”
“Football, of course.” I can’t imagine that a man like you thinks about anything else. I know my father didn’t.”
“Now you might be surprised what a man like me thinks about.”
“Sorry, Mr. Calebow, but I already have more jockstraps hanging from my bedpost than I know what to do with.”
“Do you now?
“Athletes are s-o-o-o exhausting. I’ve moved on to the sort of men who wear boxer shorts.”
The conversation is between Phoebe Somerville and Dan Calebow in Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s IT HAD TO BE YOU. Note how much it says about the heroine and how the hero keeps his comments short. Just like a man.
“Is there some boon I can grant you, Lady Alys?” “Or are you simply here for the pleasure of my company?”
“I want you to choose me.”
“Choose you for what?”
“Richard said he’d offered either of us as…. I mean to say, he wanted you to….” “I want you to choose me.”
“Because it would kill Claire.”
“You’ve been listening to too many fairy stories, Lady Alys. I don’t eat children or maidens. Your sister would survive marriage with me quite handily.”
“She’s high-strung.” “Willful.”
“And you aren’t?”
“No!” “I’m really very meek and quietly behaved.”
“I’m not certain your brother would see it that way.”
“I would cause you no trouble.” “I would keep out of your way, I would ask no questions, I would be the perfect wife.”
“Was this your sister’s idea?”
“Oh, no!” “She would never ask me to sacrifice myself in such a way. It was entirely my own idea.”
The conversation is between Alys and Simon in Anne Stuart’s LORD OF DANGER.
Note how it shows how the heroine is the opposite of what she claims and the hero knows it.
Interesting how information comes out about the characters. Try it in your stories and let me know how it works out.