English essay #7
For my English this week I have been reading The Persecutor, the autobiography of Sergei Kourdakov. Sergei grew up in the Soviet Union and was on track to become a very powerful leader in Russia. But he lost belief in the Communist ideology and escaped to Canada where he became a Christian and wrote his autobiography.
Kourdakov was a very good writer. He was good at creating mental images and keeping the reader engaged. One of his most useful gifts though, was his ability to recreate dialogue from memory. His dialogue was believable, kept the reader interested, and showed the personality of the characters talking.
So what is the most important part of dialogue reconstructed from memory? There are three important aspects to writing dialogue from memory. The accuracy of the dialogue, how quickly it gets to the point, and the liveliness of the conversation. They are all important, but which is most crucial?
The accuracy of the dialogue is of course important, up to a point. You need to convey what the conversation was about and what the conclusion was. You need to be able to recreate the basics of the talk, but you don’t need to be word-perfect. In fact, you had better not be word for word unless it is a very short exchange. The way that people talk in real life is slow and boring compared with the dialogue in well written books. If you think about it, real conversation is full of long descriptions that only need a few words. There are just to many “likes” and “ums” in real talk. If you were able to recreate dialogue word for word (which is probably impossible anyway) then it would take away the liveliness and engagement of the conversation and the reader would get bored.
Then there is getting to the point in your dialogue. This is very important because you can’t beat around the bush in a story or the readers will lose interest. You need to keep dialogue interesting by keeping filler words out and keeping each exchange to the point. It is also good to keep each character’s monologue on the short side. Long drawn out monologues are generally boring and it is best to keep them out of your book for the most part.
Keeping your dialogue lively and entertaining is what I consider to the be the crucial part of dialogue. You can be accurate, and to the point but if your dialogue is over all boring you will lose your readers. All of these are important but the liveliness of your dialogue is definitely at the top.
These are my thoughts on the important parts of dialogue that is written from memory. Please leave feedback on my writing, and let me know which of these you believe is the most important.