Monday, August 29, 2011

The art of dialogue

Wow. Hey. I'm still here. Been a cuh-razy week or so. But. It's been filled with writing, just not stuff that's good blog material. The good news is that I done gone an' got me big ole paid freelance gig. Yup. It's not official *official* yet (I was, ahem, recruited for this position), but hopefully it will be soon and I can talk all about it. It's public health-related, and--did I mention this?--I get paid. For reals.

My monthly writer's group starts up again in September, too,so hopefully I can squeeze some blog time in-between everything. Because, you know, I've been so good about it so far...

Anyway(s), I have been reading, too, and recently dug into some Welty, as I'd said I would a few weeks back. I remember reading "Why I Live at the P.O." and "A Worn Path" from years ago, but this week I started with "Petrified Man", because it's what I have in an anthology.

Wow. I'd forgotten that Welty gives great dialogue. I think that's what impressed me the most about the story. I mean, dialogue is tough. Real, authentic-sounding dialogue is an art unto itself.  She not only manages to get the accents and slang/colloquialisms and natural speech patterns down without making those dropped "g"s or regional expressions stand out, but she also gets the personalities and agendas of the speakers out on the page. It's amazing. In fact, "Petrified Man" is nearly all dialogue between two women. It's damn near unbelievable. The story is ostensibly about the shenanigans of one Mrs. Pike, but, instead, the reader gets a peek into the personalities and motivations of the two women who are gossiping about her (Mrs. Fletcher and Leota). It's an incredible feat to be able to create such an expansive story based almost entirely on subtext; nearly an impossible thing to give so much information by what is not said. I'm still kind of blown away by it.

I think my next foray into Welty will be her collection, The Golden Apples, which is series of stories that center around one particular (fictionalized) community. Since I keep wandering around my own neighborhood and picking up bits and pieces of things that I hope will eventually turn into stories, I'm really interested in seeing how Welty treats interconnected tales. I'd love to try something similar with the great characters I have here in my own backyard.

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