Youth Fiction Author and Illustrator's Official Blog Page

Monday, September 25, 2006

Write dialog that you dream of hearing

by Kevin Scott Collier

A student in my youth fiction writing class recently brought up how authors write about their experiences in real life. True, as most of what we write is not imagined but based on situations we have been in or ordeals we have observed. Authors reveal a glimpse into their heart in even the most outrageous fiction tales.

The greatest conduit of emotion in any book is its dialog. This is the interaction between characters, which can actually represent composites of lost lovers, friends and combatants the author has known. Authors are sponges that absorb emotional experiences and squeeze them back into pages of “fiction.”

Authors also write about dreams: things that did not come to pass for us. This dialog, crafted between characters, represents a slice of your personal life. How this dialog plays out reveals the most about an author. Does the author write only what they expect to hear, or what they have always dreamed of hearing?

My class tossed around this thought for some time. I moderated ideas, but came to a conclusion. “If a character is a composite of yourself, don’t write what you think you would hear, but write the words you never thought were meant for you.”

Faces twisted among the students, and things became silent for a moment. I continued. “Too often we deny the characters that represent us in our stories the happiness that eluded us in real life.” One student chimed. “My father and I were never close, and in my story the girl and her father never seem to bond.”

Her story involved a divorce where a daughter imagines weekend visitations will allow an opportunity to have one-on-one time with her father. But her dad has a lady friend in the mix which likely will be an obstruction to that bond. A fictional story had been crafted around a real life drama for this writer. It seemed this tale was not going to meander too far off the beaten path for this author. It was to be a retelling of a lost opportunity.

Instead of mirroring a personal experience of missed opportunity, create a new ending in your heart. Perhaps it is the lady friend who brings daughter and father together once and for all. And perhaps some of the most fragile dialog exchanges can speak words the author longed to hear but never did. Writing fiction gives us a chance to rewrite moments from personal experience and find resolve.

If a character in your story actually represents you, don’t deny yourself a few miracles. Don’t revive all of your missed opportunities and simply retell them. Instead write what you have always dreamt of hearing from another but eluded you. Dream a little.

Our life is just as much of what we imagine it will be as what we have in fact endured. The story you complete will not only meet the expectations of your readers but will strike a touch of peace in your heart, too.

1 comment:

Mary Cunningham said...

So true, Kevin! I wrote the series, "Cynthia's Attic" not only from a recurring dream, but so I could experience adventures with my grandmother

I always regretted not being closer to all my grandparents, and asking them questions about their youth. By sending Gus (me) and Cynthia back in time to 1914, they are able to relate to, and have adventures with their 12-year-old grandmothers.

Writing these books has been a very satisfying experience. I completely agree with your post.