Subtle dialogue

I run across dialogue in which people say what they mean and mean what they say. For instance, two characters who sit and talk about their vulnerable circumstances without any hint of obfuscation. They have a heart to heart straight to the bone talk. Or the dialogue in which two characters engage in passionate duel over their beliefs without a hint of subtlety either.

I understand some readers derive some vicarious pleasure or emotions in these scenes, but really to me, they mostly feel syrupy, dull, and utterly trite.

People don’t say what they mean most of the time, especially in emotionally bare moments because people are inherently protective of themselves. We fear rejection, flouting social conventions, wronging someone, confronting unsavory aspects of our psyche, or because you know most of the time, we are not even aware of what we are feeling, we can’t give a name to it. And so we use hedge words, or outright lie, or speak laterally, or be coy and speak in code. If your characters are inherently dramatic, meaning they have inner tensions that threaten to tear them apart, they will have fears and insecurities that will inhibit them from saying what they mean most of the time.

Anyway back to being a crazy fish.

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One thought on “Subtle dialogue

  1. I agree. I love stories where the reader has to go under the surface of the text to discover what the characters are failing to say. It could also be because their situation is too painful to state outright or because they can’t even acknowledge it to themselves.

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