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msilverstar

dialog-only fic

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Sep. 23rd, 2006 | 01:04 pm
mood: moody

I just found out that I really don't like dialog-only fic. The workshoppers comm started with that format, and I found it frustrating to read, couldn't write it, couldn't even give helpful feedback. I suppose it's good to have learned it now.

How about you all? Do you like dialog-only fic, hate it or have mixed reactions?
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Lotripper

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from: msilverstar
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:43 pm (UTC)
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Interesting!

I'm thinking a lot depends on the unique voices of in the dialog, which is why Pintel and Raggetti would work.

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from: jubilancy
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 08:32 pm (UTC)
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It's just impractical to me, since even playwrights have found it necessary to including blocking and settings in order to convey their supposedly dialogue-only story. If the greatest minds of English lit can't do it, why would I expect to suddenly break the mold?

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Lotripper

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from: msilverstar
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:44 pm (UTC)
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Also why I find script-style RPGs so tiring to read!

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Trianne

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from: trianne
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 08:33 pm (UTC)
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I've read some good dialogue only fic, but as a general rule, I dislike the format. It's okay for crackfic (I've done lots), but no, I like proper writing with narrative and description, not just talk. Plus, it's a pain at times working out which one is actually *doing* the talking.

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from: ex_absolutef238
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:43 pm (UTC)
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yeah. it's great for crackfic.

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girl tarte

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from: tarteaucitron
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:05 pm (UTC)
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you have to be incredibly skilled to make a dialogue fic work even marginally IMO. so much is lost that can't and shouldn't be replaced by dialogue exposition. i'm not sure i've ever read a dialogue fic that i found completely satisfying (i put my hands up and say i don't read widely enough for this to be at all a reliable judgement), and to be honest i tend to be immediately put off if i click a link and see no straight narrative.

plays are meant to be acted, not read - half the art is in the direction and interpretation. dialogue-only fic can be stylistically interesting, but for my money, it can't tell the whole story.

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from: ex_absolutef238
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:45 pm (UTC)
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very insightful.

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almaviva

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from: almaviva
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:06 pm (UTC)
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I find it a useful exercise when writing a story and frequently that is what my first draft is--just dialogue. As a reader, I want more. I want setting and thoughts and the little movements (I'm thinking of Laura here because she really is a master at subtlety, things that are so a part of people but writers sometimes miss because they're not usually things that you would remember about a person...I'm not saying this right.)

I think for a dialogue only fic to approach working, it needs humor. Other emotions need those silences and brooding looks, they need action to help convey them but humor can just be that back and forth.

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Lotripper

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from: msilverstar
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:56 pm (UTC)
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Huh, I hadn't thought of using it for a first draft. I wish I could hear my characters' voices that clearly! But I adore Laura's subtlety (and yours), and so may have to work on that to get anywhere close.

And good point about the humor, playing off one another. Even in other types of fic, you don't want a lot of other stuff getting in the way of that kind of crackly back-and-forth.

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muskrit

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from: thejennabides
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:07 pm (UTC)
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When it's done well, I do really like it - but I think it's one of the more difficult formats to master, because you have to do description, characterization, exposition and plot all in a way that sounds like conversation (even if it's stylized conversation). That's really asking a lot. I had to do a couple of dialogue-only exercises in college and I think my results were mixed. The best example I can think of is the Fletch novels (has someone already mentioned those?), which are sustained narrative through little or nothing but dialogue, iirc.

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muskrit

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from: thejennabides
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:09 pm (UTC)
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addendum: I just remembered that I did write a couple of dialogue only fics (though one of them may have had some action towards the end) in my RPS days, both between Orlando and Keira. And I'm pretty happy with them, even though they only went for a few pages. But it's not something I try my hand at regularly.

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amusing musing

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from: sandelwood
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:16 pm (UTC)
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It's rare to find a really well done one. The long one I wrote has areas of serious failure that I'm not proud of, especially since I began it as a regular narrative and had to go attempt to challenge myself. Being a detail freak, I crave exposition of surroundings and facial expressions and things you just can't easily slip into dialogue without it seeming forced.

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Lotripper

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from: msilverstar
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 10:01 pm (UTC)
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I can see that this is a form that requires a huge amount of revision and editing to make it work. I sure don't have the patience!

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Feel For Faith

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from: feelforfaith
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:20 pm (UTC)
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Following the dialog-only fic requires more attention, and it gets tiring if the fic is longer and/or the voices are not distinctive enough.

I found the workshoppers exercise useful because dialog is not my strong point, so it forced me to take a step out of my comfort zone. (My first reaction was, no, no way I can't write a dialog-only fic :).)

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Lotripper

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from: msilverstar
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 10:02 pm (UTC)
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Definitely harder to read. Good for you for doing the exercise! I wussed out.

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v_angelique

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from: v_angelique
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:32 pm (UTC)
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It can be frustrating. Originally, my instinct was to write fic that was very snappy and heavy on the dialogue. However, my first beta encouraged me to add more and more "__ said" statements to make it easier to follow, and more action. Now I'm starting to go back to thinking that in a situation where it's only two people, those aren't always necessary. Maybe every five lines or so, but it can be a good approach for example to start a fic with a few lines of dialogue where you're not *supposed* to know who's speaking. I dunno. To each his own I guess. But *all* dialgoue, yeah, that's hard to read.

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Lotripper

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from: msilverstar
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 10:06 pm (UTC)
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I agree, if there's only two people and they have distinctive enough voices or the context makes it clear, you can go without noting every single time.

Sections of dialog can be very effective both in changing the pacing and rhythm of a story and illuminating the characters' relationship. I like a mix of things, not all one kind anyway.

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Jem

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from: crazybutsound
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:35 pm (UTC)
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Mostly, I really dislike it. But I have to admit I wrote it once, because I had to try and see what it felt like and because I'm just hideously bad at dialogue. But as a reader? It just doesn't work for me, particularly since a LOT of writers who attempt it can't manage the distinctive voices needed for such a format to work. Plus it does work better with humor, banter, quick back and forth ; not so much with angstier settings where the mood and the looks and the actions convey as much if not more than the words, and where a lot of the story lies in what isn't said.

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Lotripper

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from: msilverstar
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 10:08 pm (UTC)
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I'm not terribly proud of my dialog, though co-writing and RPGs have helped a lot in making me more fluent. Definitely works better in humor and with distinctive voices.

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from: ex_absolutef238
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:41 pm (UTC)
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hahah. i don't know why this made me laugh out loud. maybe nervous laughter. i don't know, but i like this post.

i actually really like dialog-only fic. i find to be fun and usually it's written with a sense of humor. if it's well done, it's great. but if it's not? yeah. there's no leeway for mistakes in this genre, because it's just too confusing.

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from: ex_absolutef238
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:51 pm (UTC)
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p.s. if you have any writing exercises in mind that you would like, i'd love to know them or have you offer them. :)

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Lotripper

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from: msilverstar
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 10:15 pm (UTC)
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Interesting, I was completely paralyzed by the challenge.

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Lotripper

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from: msilverstar
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 10:23 pm (UTC)
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ingve9's fic is at ingvessogur and I found tantra, anyone? there. It is charming, if occasionally confusing.

Someone up there ^^ pointed out that there are actual novels written in that form. Yikes!

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strongplacebo

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from: strongplacebo
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 09:47 pm (UTC)
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Really difficult. Really really. Dialgoue I'm fine with but I have to be able to ramble in between.

As for reading, I'm not sure. It can become confusing and I sometimes find myself having to re-read whole sections to figure out who's talking. If I'm doing that, then the characterisation isn't up to scratch. Dialogue-only can only work well where characterisation is clear.

The one I really liked in the workshoppers challenege was the one set in the dark because the author seemed to get how confusing dialogue-only can be and set her fic accordingly.

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Lotripper

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from: msilverstar
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 10:30 pm (UTC)
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I like rambling too. And I think it's almost impossible to do subtle characterization in dialog-only fic, though maybe possible with familiar characters as we have in fanfic. Setting it in the dark or on the phone could help too. And I've come to see that with distinctive voices, banter, broad comedy and crackfic can work (though I still find it tiring to read).

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Lotripper

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from: msilverstar
date: Sep. 23rd, 2006 10:31 pm (UTC)
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I can see that, voices that lure you in!

(This is my best meta post evah ;-)

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