Even though I am thrilled season three of Scarecrow and Mrs. King was finally released this past week, and now waiting not so patiently for season four, I had been planning to write this entry for a while. I love Scarecrow and Mrs. King, and am grateful we had four wonderful seasons and 88 fun episodes; however, I do have some favorites and not so preferred episodes, but still a thousand times better then anything on today, especially reality television. I thought I would start with my “Least Favorite” episodes first. As a side note, I am not a fan of the last four episodes of the series, because of the absence of Kate (although I understand the reason behind her absence)—the show was no longer fun and missed the amazing chemistry between Kate and Bruce.
Reading aloud one of my stories in a creative writing class a few months ago, my classmate Chuck asked, “How do you come up with dialogue so easily?” I shrugged my shoulders and answered, “I don’t know. Writing dialogue has always been easy for me. I visualize the scene and words just flow.” I guess I was born with a natural talent, or maybe it is my background in theatre? Nevertheless, I thought I would share some techniques I have learned over the years when it comes to writing dialogue.
1. Read, read, read
I read many screenplays, plays, books, and short stories. Reading helps me get the feel for various writing formats and styles. I think of reading as the homework, with the actual writing as the final project.
2. Beg, borrow, and steal
This holds true for acting, too. Observe, observe, observe. Put your spy skills to use. Sit at a bus stop or the mall and observe those around you. Be a wallflower at a party, instead of participating in the conversation, listen and observe everything. In a high school acting class, we called these observations, character studies. We would watch for mannerisms, facial expressions, body language, and ‘bits.’ Acting bits are small stage moments a character does; i.e. how they might smoke a cigarette, run their hand through their hair when nervous or agitated, or biting their fingernails. We would write down what we observed and then ‘use’ what we learned in performing short scenes.
3. Listen to how people talk
Listen to conversations that take place around you every day. Not being nosy, but listen to a conversation at a restaurant or standing in line at a grocery store. The details are not important; listen to voice patterns, nuances, dialects, natural pauses, phrasing, inflections, anything that might help with dialogue and the way people talk. With that in mind, when writing, let go of your inner grammar geek—use fragments, we talk in fragments, use contractions, we speak in contractions; however, use stereotypes, profanity and slang sparingly. Consider the flow and rhythm of a real conversation. Characters can have unfinished sentences, be interrupted, and can argue--just like in real conversations.
4. Visualize the scene
Before I write down a single line, I visualize the scene. I see the setting, the time and place, I visualize the action, hear the characters voices in my head (yes, I hear voices), then I write what I saw and heard. Good dialogue will move the action forward and fleshes out the characters. Think of it as a road map.
5. Write it and then read it
It is best to do this standing in front of a wall, hearing your own voice vibrate. Does it sound natural? Does it sound forced? Is it interesting? Are you giving too much away? Are you telling or showing? Is your dialogue moving the scenes forward? Does it sound authentic?
What three adjectives would I use to describe myself? Playful, creative, and shy.
Now, what three would you use?
I am currently taking an online blogging class, and the last lesson emphasized on Finding Your Focus. We were supposed to consider the subject (what you want to write about), then boil it down to a theme (your specific angle and area of focus), and then write an objective (what you want to accomplish).
I began to write down the things I was passionate about, and saw I am passionate about many things. I enjoy directing theatre, writing screenplays, being conservative, reading, genealogy, raising my children, autism awareness, and traveling, and I admit I am passionate about the television show Scarecrow and Mrs. King, but other then raising my children, none of these things I do on a full-time basis. Could I write about any of these topics for a year without running out of ideas? No, I realized.
I think of myself as a jack-of-all-trades, master of none (except I do have a Masters degree in theatre), I have always been someone who seems to have her hand in everything, and all at once. I am easily bored and like to stay busy. A friend recently sent me an email telling me, “I'm amazed at all you've accomplished with three active boys and a very busy lifestyle.”
I shrug it off, it's not much. I think I most be ADD. I just can’t sit still. For example, this evening I finished writing a screenplay, and am ready to start another one. Nope, "no moss grows under my feet." I have many skills, but not outstanding in any particular one, and I see myself as a generalist, rather than a specialist.
I am a merit badge counselor for theatre and public speaking in the scouting program, I am currently ‘helping’ write and design a road show for my church, I was just elected a GOP delegate for my county, I am often asked to beta read stories for friends and family. I love to read fan fiction and love to watch movies and television shows specifically those that deal with the genre of espionage. I pay the bills, do the shopping, and I am chauffeur, maid, and cook. I am a home schooling mom and I take children to doctor, dentist and orthodontist appointments and the four-legged children to the vet. I am woman! Hear me roar!
Yet, somehow, I still find time to write. My life is scattered and I like it! And I think my blog will continue to be as scattered as me.
"Hey. . . it's me."
I live in the shadows of the Olympic Mountains in the state of Washington and I love camping, boating, kayaking, hiking, and hanging out with my husband, our three adult children, and our Bernese Mountain dog, Henry.