Rewriting Dialogue in a short story

I am tantalisingly close to finishing a short story. After going a year without finishing one, it feels good to start getting some completion. 

So the story is about a woman being chased by a mob of men. She flees down a haunted path to escape, but then becomes ensnared by the evil spirit residing there.

I’m happy with the structure of the story, and the general flow. Some of the description needs tidying up, but this is minor polishing now. 

The big thing is the dialogue. The interplay between the two main characters (indeed the only two characters) is a crucial part. It opens up the protagonist (and thus the reader) to the realisation of her situation. 

Unfortunately the dialogue thus far is a little stilted, as I still need to adapt the story to meet the antagonist’s point of view. I’m definitely proceeding from the perspective that the antagonist’s actions fuel the protagonist’s actions. The difficulty is representing that in dialogue.

I’m going to focus on developing the antagonist’s motivations a lot more, so that this will enhance the dialogue and so propel the story. There are three sections of dialogue, so I need to work on tying those together. Separate moments of the same narrative.

I’m confident it will all be done by the weekend, along with some final polishing. Then it’s time to submit it, somewhere, and move onto the next project.


The rewrite – dialogue

I realise that I had not continued with my pieces on rewriting. Thus far out of understandability, structure, characters, dialogue, style, and polish, I have only reached halfway. The previous rewrite looked at characters, and in particular the conflict between the two central characters in one of my short stories. This time round I am focusing on a critical means of delivering that conflict – dialogue.

Quick recap on the story. Horror genre in a low fantasy setting. A woman is being chased by men from her village. She flees down a haunted path. She meets a stranger who initially offers to help her leave the forest. It turns out the path is haunted and she is hunted by a dark spirit.

In the original draft the dialogue is a little stilted. It’s not real in the sense of how people talk. In fact, at one point it was described as being akin to a 1970’s BBC period piece. The two characters are not formal aristocracy; they are meant to be just farmers. So one aspect of the dialogue I need to change is how they are talking.

The other problem I noticed is that there is little to distinguish the characters. While there are some sections where the character’s voice comes out, most of the time you swap the speech tags and it wouldn’t read much different. Well, the story might take on a odd twist, but the content is not unique to that person is what I mean.

Imagine you are told a story about two people you know, and the person telling the story mimics some behaviours or wording from what they saw. If you knew those two people well you wouldn’t necessarily need to know who said what at every juncture, because their individual personality would come out. 

This story should do the same, bringing out the distinctive voice so that the dialogue seems plausible to who these people are. 

Apologies for the succinct post, having been caught out by some other things and distractions. Normal service, I hope, tomorrow.