Saturday, April 24, 2010


Today's Subtitle: "Help! My characters sound like actors in a 1930s screwball comedy!"

This week I seemed to be channeling my inner Howard Hawks*. Every bit of dialogue I wrote somehow morphed into words that would have felt at home in any screwball or British drawing room comedy of a certain era. I kept expecting my characters to break out with jolly good or pip-pip at any moment. Okay, so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration, but really, what do you do with a character who insists on saying things like, "Say, I’m being an absolute dunce."??

The saddest part? I wish I could say I was writing the kind of witty repartee you'd find in those old movies. Unfortunately, my version is more the kind of stuff you wince at. Ouch.

Still, there's something about letting a character talk and say what they want that reveals certain things about them. For instance, I had no idea that my heroine was a master thief who only steals high end, high profile and very expensive objects at great risk. Not until, that is, she started talking to one of her rich "clients" at a party and her inner thoughts betrayed her. What started out as an easy way to have her introduced to the hero turned into a revelation that had me scrambling to rewrite my earlier scenes. Like tipping a line of dominoes, other things started to fall into place.

Now if I can only get them to stop sounding like they need to be walking their wire-haired terrier on the deck of the Queen Mary as they cross the Atlantic... Asta! Heel!

So, while my word count hasn't really budged, I'm satisfied with the progress I've made this week. How about you? Did things go your way this week or did you encounter any unexpected roadblocks? Fred and Ginger and Nick and Nora and I would all love to know!

* his early comedies


Deborah Wright said...

Ticking the email comment box!

Alice Sharpe said...

Debbie -- go to the library and check out Mary Daheim's DEAD MAN DOCKING. In your present mood, I think you'll get a kick out of it.

I love it when things like what you described happened. Your heroine as a high end thief is great.

My week was eventful in that I spent a great deal of it on the road. The people I spoke with in Montana and the things I saw helped me hone ideas so I am rewriting certain sections of this much overworked three chapters. It also gave me a sense of things that would happen in the following books and helped organize what the character's would see. I entertained myself with snippets of conversations from all three books and while the snarky dialogue I wanted to insert in the first book (the one with the princess) is inappropriate there, it would be totally good in the second book (the tone, not the words) so that was good to know, too.

Pour yourself a stiff gin and tonic or a martini, get that book and and have a laugh!

Genene Valleau said...

Gosh, Debbie, if your heroine's revelation about being a high-end thief revealed something about her, maybe their British comedy dialogue does too?? A love of old screwball movies that she shares with the hero? Dunno. Now I'm curious about the book Alice recommended.

Alice, so glad you made it back from your trip safely with lots of ideas!

My week wasn't as productive as I had planned. Spent some time on more research--that's one complication of traveling in a time machine--there's not just one setting and time period to research, but several. And I did get almost 4000 words into the computer. I don't even need to re-read blog posts to know my issue was overscheduling my time again. So my scheduling process got tweaked again, and next week I'll do better!

Kendra said...

It's been a pretty good week for me. I'm about done proofing one ms, but I still need to finish a synopsis for a story in which I have no idea what is going to happen in the middle.

I should have stuff going out on submission the first or second week of May. :)

Katie said...

Haha! "Pip-pip, I'm jolly good, old chap!" Sounds like how my friend and I talk to each other. ^_^

But I get ya on the stupid dialogue thing. I've gotten used to them saying dumb things by now. I've also given up hope for the rough draft being any good at all. (thank goodness I can fix it later)

I made some progress! Not a ton word wise, but solution and depth wise, yes! The more I think about it, the better it's getting. It gets more believable, which (believe me) is a good thing right now.

Genene's suggestion of your protags sharing a love of old comedies is genius! That is a totally cute idea.

Paty Jager said...

Busy weekend! Spent Saturday in Corvallis with Lori and Danita, then spent all day yesterday doing farmer things. I was beat by the time the sun went down!

Congrats on the revelation, Debbie!

Woo hoo, on getting your books figured out and the trip, Alice.

Genene, I hear ya on the research for many times in history. My books centers around the thesis the North American Indians at one time mingled with the South and Central American Indians so besides getting all my current facts about Guatemala correct I'm also reading things on the Mayans and the Hopi Indians.

Kendra, Keep plugging away! Can't wait to hear the news after you get it sent.

Katie, It's always good when the story takes shape in your mind.

As for me this week. I manage about 5,000 words and find while this is daunting int he research department, I am enjoying the characters and setting.

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