The best way to cause a fight is to have an interruption or miscommunication. I can relate. I had a kerfuffle happen solely based on a miscommunication via text. Texting is the modern form of playing “telephone.” Things get lost in translation. The example given is kinda fun. Imagine two people huddled together sharing an inside detail of someone you know. The two characters are hunched over a table whispering about someone when an outsider appears at the edge of the table. They have no clue what is going on and is just like, “Hey! How are you?” and the two characters instantly throw up a wall. “Um, hey. We’re fine. Um.” **Inside information- when writing an interruption, as in, a character is talking and someone cuts them off, you use an em-dash followed by closed quotes. No period or any other form of punctuation. Punctuations are flippin’ confusing.
It looks like this:
“I was telling you about what an em-dash is when—”
“OMG! Are you trying to teach these people about writing?”
An interruption is different from a fade. The fade is the ellipses or three dots (…). These are used when the dialogue fades away or there are elongated pauses.
Let me interrupt—hahaha. See what I did there? No? Okay then. Anyway, this is where I remind you what book we are working on, which is How to Write Dazzling Dialogue by James Scott Bell. We are still in chapter 5 but pay attention to the section head (the title of this blog). That is where you can find us. Remember, I am using the ebook format. Run along and freshen your cuppa and steal a few of those walnut chocolate chip cookies your bestie brought in their lunch. Just a nibble. Not the whole bag. Geesh. Ready?
On with the show! Now, we were talking about interruptions until we were rudely interrupted by…me. I am so rude. It is suggested that we sprinkle a bit of interruptions throughout our dialogue. Think in real life, how often do you or are we interrupted? Put yourself in a coffee shop. Not a far-off image for me. Mmmm…coffee. Anyway, you and your bestie are having a cuppa and sharing delicate info about someone else in said shop. First, bad you! Gossip is nasty. Onward- so you are chatting, and someone steps up to the table. Your conversation stops in its tracks. Do you tell this person the gossip? Do you leave them out of the loop? Don’t worry. Whichever you decide you can get back to the juicy gossip at hand. The tension is in the time it takes to decide to tell or not. Good job! It’s light tension but still…tension.
Tension can be created in many ways throughout your story. You just have to pay attention to cues on where they can fit. Pick a scene you are having issues with. Now, have one of your characters come in with a touch of attitude. Bump up the ‘ttude by 25%. In other words- they need more coffee. No matter what happens they will have a not so wonderful reaction. Tension, people. Tension.
The Fear Factor
You can use fear in so many ways. Fear can also add to the, yes, tension. It can be as simple as fearing you forgot your phone when you left home all the way to impending doom. Another way to hint at fear is to have the other characters feeling fear in what your MC is doing or will be done to them. Think about the earlier coffee shop scene. Do they or don’t they tell their interloper the secret? What if the secret is directly related to them? Say…their boyfriend/ girlfriend is cheating on them. Talk about tension with a gallon of fear poured on. Agendas, arguments, barriers, and fear—by keeping these in mind your dialogue will be SpIcY.
Polish your sparkle and keep twirling.
Find joy. Be joy. Enjoy.
I’m always looking for new friends!
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