Monday, December 7, 2015

Writing Dialogue with Purpose



Ever just been WOWED by a scene in a book? Maybe the descriptions bloomed with detail, the characters flickered to life, or the plot gripped at your heartstrings like candy in the hands of a 3 year old.

Or maybe…

Something in the dialogue captured you and deepened ALL of the above.

Ever read a scene like that? Where dialogue opened the door to deeper characters and plot?

Well, it happens right here in the story of The Samaritan Woman.

A few important things to note:
  1. This is one of the longest scenes in the book of John
  2. The pace slows considerably (to draw attention to it)
  3. Jesus talks to a WOMAN
  4. Not only THAT, he talks to a SAMARITAN WOMAN
  5. AND…. A woman with HER kind of background (VERY taboo for a single, Jewish, righteous sort-of-guy)
Hmmm….

Do you think John is trying to get our attention here?

Jesus defies convention to get to the heart of the matter. He’s more concerned about PEOPLE than popularity.

Because, God is in the business of rescuing his kids – especially the ones who know they are broken. Outcasts…searching.

This woman had been searching for love for years. Five husbands later, she still hasn’t found it. She’s parched. Dry. Thirsting to death for a love that will never satisfy.

Ever been there?

Then Jesus comes and offers her the one thing her heart truly needs. Real love. Living water. The heart’s only thirst-quencher.

It changes her life.

What about the writing tip?

The dialogue for this story teaches us some important techniques to use in our own writing.

Make each phrase count.

Don’t spend your time placing a conversation into a place where you don’t need one.

Move the story forward with dialogue

Similar to the first one, dialogue should move the story forward. Create more depth. Gives us more understanding about the characters and plot. We learn more about Jesus through this conversation. He doesn’t mind defying conventions to heal a wounded heart. He seeks out the destitute and broken instead of waiting for them to come to him. He is not afraid of the hard questions. He is confident of who He is and His purpose.

And it transforms the woman’s life. As it changes ours.

Make it realistic

The conversation isn’t ask a question – answer a question.

It’s more realistic, with questions going unanswered, redirections, changing the subject….

All the things that happen in natural conversations are the things that help make our dialogues more realistic.

Pick up a Bible and read John 4 from a new perspective – as both an author and a seeker of Living Water.

Your thirst for answers, refreshment, and satisfaction is sure to be quenched.

What are some tips you use to keep your dialogue realistic and with forward momentum?

9 comments:

Krista Phillips said...

To give credit where due.... This is Pepper's awesome post! I was just helping her out last night to publish it! Lol!

Mary Vee said...

I was wondering since this was Pepper's day. But in truth, your posts are equally fabulous, Krista!!


Pepper,
What a great idea. Thank you so much for pointing out these truths.

Robin Mason said...

maybe in dialogue more than the rest of the writing, am EVER so glad i type by touch. i can close my eyes and rather literally transcribe the conversation (or scene as the case may be) that i hear and see in my head.

Amy Leigh Simpson said...

Awesome!!! I read mine out loud as if I'm running lines for a play. It helps me better envision the dynamic of the scene as the reader will read it and it also gives me a good pace and choreography for the action tags that should take place. So fun!

Julia M. Reffner said...

Wow, this is fantastic, Pepper!

Pepper Basham said...

THanks for posting this for me, Krista :-)

Mare, I'm glad you liked it.

Pepper Basham said...

Robin,
That's how dialogue is for me too. It's like a movie happening in my mind. So much fun

Pepper Basham said...

Ames,
Reading out loud helps a LOT. I do that too

Pepper Basham said...

Thanks so much, Julia