Writing was tough last week. The dialogue was becoming often an excuse to explain things (yuck).
So, today I took my cookbook holder into my writing space, along with three books I like. I picked a long-ish section of mostly dialogue from each book and typed it. Word for word.
It’s what I used to do as a girl. I’d copy down everything I loved into my journal. Just copy it. It’s something I looked at as gauche and silly and girlish for a time. But I had a professor once (the beloved Peter Connelly) who made me see that all the copying and letter writing I’d been doing were really just the “five finger exercises of becoming a writer.” That notion sticks with me. If I want to learn to write, reading and copying is one of the ways to do it.
But it also helped me get unstuck. I looked at someone else’s characters, someone else’s plot, someone else’s dialogue. I identified how she solved that problem, how she got around that difficulty.
And I bet you want to know what books I picked. Well, okay. No laughing–at either my audacity nor at my silliness–
- Gilead by Marilynne Robinson–the scene where Jack Boughton and the protagonist talk in the church
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince–the scene where Snape sentences Harry to detention after Harry uses SectumSempra on Malfoy…up through Harry & Ginny’s kiss
- The Girl Who Chased the Moon–the scene where Juila and Sawyer finally…well…you know