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Monday, October 29, 2012

How Dialogue Reveals Character


Today's post is by author Maria McKenzie!


Maria McKenzie is the author of the Amazon bestseller The Governor’s Sons. Her newest release is Escape: Book One of the Unchained Trilogy, a family saga. Maria’s books are available at Amazon.  
She is currently at work on Masquerade: Book II of The Unchained Trilogy.  Look for it in late 2012.  Maria lives in Cincinnati with her husband and two boys.  Before becoming a small business owner and author, Maria worked in Georgia and North Carolina as a librarian for several years.

She attended Wittenberg University and received a bachelor’s degree in English, and later graduated from Atlanta University with a master’s in Library Science.

Maria  reads historical romance, romantic suspense, thrillers, true crime and biographies.  As a foodie, she likes to cook and bake, as long as the recipes aren’t too time consuming, so she’ll have more time to write and more time to read!  Maria loves old movies, history, museums and antiquing. She’s also into fitness and enjoys running.  As long as she’s not listening to an audio book, she comes up with story ideas during her morning runs.

 Maria around the web:
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My favorite part of fiction writing is dialogue. It serves many purposes, and much can be revealed about a character through his thoughts, actions and especially by what he says or doesn't say. Each word a character speaks (or that is spoken about him) clues the reader into his identity.

I love old movies and
Casablanca is one of my all time favorites! William Bayer, in his book The Great Movies, classifies it as one of the 60 greatest motion pictures of all time. Bayer says it is one of the few adventure films where the adventure takes place indoors. There are no fights or outdoor adventures. "There are, instead, adventures of verbal jousting, of dialogue and innuendo, and they are dominated, in fact ruled, by a supreme adventurer, Rick."

What makes us know Rick is an adventurer is his dialogue. Bayer outlines several snatches of it that reveal glimpses into Rick's character:

His Irony:
When asked by Major Strasser to explain why he came to Casablanca, Rick says, "I came to Casablanca for the waters."
Major Strasser: "What waters? We're in the desert."
Rick: "I was misinformed."

His Sex Life in Casablanca:
As seen with a girl in a brief exchange. She asks, "Where were you last night?"
Rick: "That's so long ago I don't remember."
Girl: "Will I see you tonight?"
Rick: "I never make plans so far in advance."

His Bitterness:
When he accuses Ilsa of having had other lovers, he says, "Were there others in between? Or aren't you the kind that kisses and tells?"

His Urbanity:
"What is your nationality?" Major Strasser asks.
"I'm a drunkard," says Rick.

His Mystique:
Captain Renault explains to Ilsa: "Rick is the kind of man that if I were a woman, I would be in love with Rick."

Besides revealing insight into your characters, dialogue moves your story along by providing important information. That's why the lines are there in the first place, and that's what keeps the reader reading!

If you haven't seen Casablanca, it’s worth renting!

What's some of the best dialogue you've seen or read lately?

36 comments:

  1. Who hasn't seen Casablanca?!?!?! Awwww it's one of the most romantic films ever and I totally agree about the snappy smart and sexy dialogue!

    I would say "Brief Encounter" is another classic film with classy dialogue.

    Hi KarenG, hi Maria!!!

    Take care
    x

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    1. Hi, Old Kitty! Snappy, smart and sexy describes that dialogue to a tee! As much as I love old movies, I haven't seen Breif Encounter. I'm adding it to my list:).

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  2. Great lines aren't they? Sparkling with wit and character.

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    1. Hi, Simon! Those lines do sparkle with character! That's a great wa to describe them:).

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  3. Karen, thanks do much for hosting me here at Coming Down the Mountain! I'm lookingforward to chatting with your readers!

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    1. It's great to have you, Maria. And now I want to go back and watch Casablanca :) A recent film I'm thinking of with interesting dialogue is the True Grit remake by the Cohen brothers. The dialogue just drew me in.

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    2. I saw the new True Grit! Great dialogue:).

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  4. You have made me want to watch Casablanca again, this time with a writer's eye (or ear?).

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  5. Dear Maria, I read mystery novels prolifically. Some of the funniest dialogue I've read--and it truly does reveal character--is in the M.C. Beaton mystery series that features Agatha Raisin. Thank you for your sharing of the dialogue from Casablanca; I can see that I need to watch that movie again with the intent of listening closely to what is being reveal subtly. Peace.

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    1. Hi, Dee! I'll have to read some of M.C. Beaton's work:). Definitely watch Casablanca again, as Liza says, with a writer's eye and ear!

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  6. Dialogue isn't the easiest for me. Snark does go a long way to identify a character though.

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    1. Hi, Alex! I'm by nature a quiet person--not talkative at all! But writing dialogue is one of my favorite things--go figure;).

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  7. Casablanca is one of my favorite films. Mystique, intrigue, and a bittersweet love story all wrapped up in snappy dialogue :)

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    1. Hi, Carol! You are so right! I've lost track of how many times I've seen it, but I'm always ready to watch it again:).

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  8. I love writing dialogue - but then I'm curious about people and dialogue is the conscious expression of communication. The really hard bit, for me, is writing the in-between bits, the bits that are covered by smouldering eyes or weeping in films. (I wonder what the screenplay for That scene in When Happy Met Sally looked like?)

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    1. Hi, Jo! Yeah, dialogue is a lot easier than those bits of this and that in between:)!

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  9. What super examples of dialog to reveal character. I love good dialog and this is why. THanks so much, Maria and Karen.

    It feels good to be back from vacation!

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    1. Hi, Clee! Good dialogue makes all the difference! Hope you had a nice vacation;).

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  10. Good dialogue does move the story along and reveals so much. Awesome post, Maria. Thanks Karen.

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    1. Hi, Teresa! Glad you enjoyed the post:).

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  11. I love writing dialogue. Cassablanca's dialogue examples are perfect.

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    1. Hi, Diane! I think my favorite part of writing is constructing the dialogue:). All of Casablanca flows smoothly because of the wonderful dialogue!

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  12. A lot of the movies of that time had great dialogue, and for the women too!

    mood
    Moody Writing

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    1. Hi, Mood! You're so right! There were some great stories with great dialogue and no dirty language!

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  13. A big thank you to all who stopped by and left comments for Maria. It's wonderful when a guest poster is made to feel welcome and like their words have benefit to others.

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    1. Karen, you've got a great blog and some awesome readers!

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  14. I love Casablanca, it's such a great script!

    Dialogue is one of my favourite parts of writing.

    Jai

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  15. Sweet blog! I notimated you with an blogger award on my blog! Click 'here' to check it out! I hope you like it! You may also notimate up to 7 bloggers (or an many as you like). Have a great one!

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    1. Jessica, Thank you for the award! I'll pop over to your blog.

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    2. Unfortunately, I can't find your blog because your profile link goes straight to your Google + profile.

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  16. I love dialogue - and those Casablanca exceprts are great!

    I'm reaidng Shannon Messenger's Keeper of the Lost Cities right now - it has some great dialouge snippets! :)

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    1. Hi, Jemi! I'll have to add Keeper of the Lost Cities to my To Read list:).

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  17. Hi Karen and Hello Maria!

    This is a wonderful craft post for writers. Thanks for sharing and thanks Karen for having Maria at your place.

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  18. Casablanca, definitely a personal favourite of mine.

    I've been watching some of Hitchcock's films recently again, and North By Northwest features one of my all time favourite lines late in the film: "that's not very sporting, using real bullets..."

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