Anonymous asked: How can I write more elaborate dialogue? Currently I feel what I am writing is too weak - a few lines with lots of “she said” and minor mannerisms. But how to make a talk scene gripping and immersive? (Thank you in advance!)
First of all, make sure that the dialogue serves a purpose. It should move the story forward by revealing information, back story, character plans or speculation, character development, or develop the setting.
Make sure that your characters are more than “talking heads.” What that means is that their whole bodies should be involved in the conversation through gestures, body language, and interacting with the scenery and other characters. Example:
"Is the abandoned house boarded up?" asked Jill.
"I don’t know," said Fred, "I’ll check when I’m out there next Tuesday."
Jill thumbed through the box of old photos. “Is the abandoned house still boarded up?” she asked, stopping to pull out a torn photo of a woman leaning against a Model T.
"I don’t know," Fred said with a shrug. "I’ll check when I’m out there next Tuesday." He pulled out his cell phone to set up a reminder, then leaned in over Jill’s shoulder to see what she was looking at.
"Nice, Model T," he said, patting Jill on the shoulder, and they smiled at each other, each with a gleam in their eyes. If the abandoned house has been boarded up for a hundred years, who knows what they might find inside?
The second version is more interesting because it tells us more about the scene, more about the characters, and more about what’s going on. They’re not just “talking heads,” they are actual physical bodies engaged with their environment.
You should also see my post on dialogue tagging and my post on How to Make Simple Writing More Vivid. :)
I don’t agree at all.
People spin a thousand potential stories about what Disney is “thinking” and most of it is conflicted. But honestly, people have always critiqued movies. All parts of movies. That’s why there are movie reviews in the paper, and it’s not always four stars perfect flick.
When all the critics blast a summer flick for not having enough character development, none of the movie executives throw up their hands and say, "that’s it! we tried to give you a handful of touching moments and you shit on them in your reviews, so now we’re never giving you that again." Like, we still have character development in films. People critiqued the fuck out of Twilight, I heard the vampire genre is still doing okay.
So IDK. While I sort of get what you’re saying, I also think you have to be honest with yourself, in that it’s really unlikely this is the legitimate motivating factor behind an exec’s decision. Probably 90% of internet critique goes under the radar, and what they do hear is usually legitimate concerns. Criticism of racism is not the reason racism perpetuates, which is essentially the core of your argument.
I mean I could point out here that 99% of Disney — both fans and the company — never give a shit about historical accuracy and the only time it really comes out is in arguments about why certain races are dramatically underrepresented? We’re allowed to set aside the reality that 99.9% of Europeans in the middle ages were poor peasants when we have fantasy movies set there constantly starring white people as royalty, but it’s harder for movies to make it to the box office in America and star black people without referencing segregation or slavery (not that these movies aren’t legit, but that isn’t the only story of black people in the U.S., or the world, etc.)
Asking someone to “settle” and “be content with what scraps we managed to throw you because you’re not really owed anything” is a racist tale as old as time, tbh
But those are criticisms of the film itself. That’s a part of art.
I mean they make characters with PoC, because people demand it, but then they get insulted for including PoC. They made Princess and the Frog, did about as well as they do any other culture, and it got nitpicked.
The better comparison is this - did people nitpick how Disney portrayed Paris? Denmark? Britain? Any European culture? Of course not. They didn’t belong to any of those cultures, but those cultures overlooked the minor representation issues. But when they portrayed China, people complained. When they portrayed Arabic countries (I’m not sure exactly where Aladdin takes place), people complained. Fuck, Princess and the Frog portrayed an American culture - specifically African American culture in New Orleans. And people STILL complained.
I’m not saying settle. I’m fucking saying that no representation is perfect. None. Ever. And the fact that Disney had to spend a ton of extra time on Princess and the Frog dealing with people getting offended and fixing the story, the character design, the fucking title, trying to cater to every tiny complaint. And people still complained.
I’m writing a story with an African princess. And I don’t know if I’ll ever publish it, but I have already prepared myself for tons and tons of criticism. This story also has a Spanish princess though (as in, from Spain). I’m not concerned about how people interpret her at all. I have done significantly more research on the African princess than the Spanish female character, because I know no Spanish person is going to break down my door if I mess something up there, but people will send me death threats if I so much as misspell a word with the other. (I’m researching both for the record).
You see the problem there? That I feel more concerned with representing one than the other, because I don’t feel like I can make any mistakes on one.
Of course the obvious solution is to just not write a story with an African princess.
Which is the solution plenty of people demanding representation would tell me to do. Hell some have told me I shouldn’t write any characters outside my ethnicity.
So what am I supposed to do here? Eh? If I write it, everyone will tell me it’s insulting because I did it wrong, even if I research it as much as possible. If I don’t write it, then how dare I not include diversity in my story! It is a no win battle.
(Also, Twilight destroyed the vampire genre. Prior there were tons of vampire books out. Haven’t heard of one reaching any success since that series came out).
- People criticize Disney portrayal of its characters of color because their portrayals are couched in stereotypes.
- People don’t criticize Disney’s European films because as a culture, we are far more accepting of white cultures and see them as normal. Not to mention that the mass movie going audience is 1) overall uneducated to foreign cultures and 2) Europe is so homogenized to us that we’ll believe it as long as there are castles and pretty costumes. These films are just as cliched and stereotypical. Honestly, most of them aren’t accurate to the time period and the supposed location. They are all just Americanized views of Europe.
- For the Princess and the Frog, they had some legitimate things to fix: Tiana originally being a servant named Maddie (I shouldn’t have to tell you why that decision was offensive), the story being called “The Frog Princess”- history of black people being associated with animals (the movie still gets criticized for this and with good reason).
- Honestly, if this is how you are going to talk about people who ask for respectful representation, I’d be afraid to read this story of yours. If you can’t see why people critice the aspects of Princess and the Frog that they do, I really don’t know how you’re going to represent this character and her culture well. And as for your Spanish princess; just because she’s ostensibly white doesn’t mean that her identity and culture has to fall by the wayside. Maybe learn about what people’s concerns are before you actually finish your story. I would also recommend visiting writingwithcolor.
- If you’re going to give up writing about someone from another culture just because you’re put off by criticism, then I don’t know why you’re writing. Culture and race are your characters identifications, not who they are. You use their culture and race to help frame their experiences, but you write them as a human being, as a character.
- What you’re supposed to do, is do your research but also keep in mind that your characters are people, not a cultural ornaments. You do need to keep in mind the feelings of others as well as be aware of the no-nos of what you’re writing. You act as if this is impossible to do, when there’s anything but. You are not going to please everybody, but you can avoid a lot of negative feedback if you take the time out to be respectful of people and what the real issues of representation are.
- And don’t compare vampires to the representation of people of color. Not to mention that while Twilight was more or less the gateway to culture’s recent inundation of supernatural YA fiction and other genre pieces, it doesn’t mean that the vampire genre is untouchable.
Oy. I think I’m going to keep you. Aw thank you! I thought it was time for a revamp (plus easier navigation). And the pokeballssss. So happy you like those since they were a pain to make because what is photoshop~ Thank you, wonderful anon.
For the time being, I’m closing my inbox to any request. I’ll get to whatever is in my inbox now, but no more than that. I’m truly sorry. It’s hard to tell with my mood often being indifferent, but I feel my mental health is not well at all.
Anyway, I’m sorry. I’ll open my inbox hopefully in two weeks. Or something.
My giveaway thing is still a thing. I might publish original materials as well. Maybe. We’ll see.
Reblogging as a reminder. I got four FC asks that I need to delete because my inbox is closed. I’m really sorry that I have to delete them, but please wait until I reopen my inbox. …I’m thinking mid-October.