Composing Dialog Or Just Nuts?

Our mail was supposed to be forwarded and the post office sent it all back instead. I told my husband I’d call them to complain.

I then went to bed and couldn’t sleep because of all the dialog I was busy composing. Not just dialog but whole scenes. I’ll say this, then she’ll say that, and then I’ll…and in every instance my words were calm, dignified, witty, and cutting. And then I thought, ‘this might make a blog post’ and began composing. It took forever to fall asleep and now I don’t remember any details of what I composed.

The same thing happens when out in public people watching. I’ll overhear or see a conversation and immediately think, ‘what if this happened instead…’ and the scenes start running through my brain. For example, getting coffee recently. A man in a big truck flirting with the barista. I sat there waiting, thinking, what if she thinks the guy’s creepy? What if she has a crush on him? The scenes become either a romance movie or an action film depending on my mood. Eventually, by the way, real dialog came out of my mouth. ‘Hey! I’m here in a big truck, too. Can I get service?’

This got me wondering if everyone’s mind works like that. So this morning I asked a friend what she would think if I asked her to call the post office and complain.

‘That I have to call the post office and complain. Maybe put a reminder to call in my phone.’

‘That’s it?’

‘What else is there?’

Well, let’s see. There are important variables of dialog where you’ll be calm, dignified, witty, and cutting.

I think everyone has those moments hours after a confrontation where you think ‘I should have said…!’ But this is more about a brain where there’s constant scenes being created and flowing. Some make it into books. Some snippets of dialog come out of character’s mouths. That dreaming sort of scene/dialog sequence is going on all the time. It makes me wonder if this is typical for writers or if non-writers do the same thing.

In reality, dialog is far different. I called the post office.

I was not calm, dignified, witty, or cutting.

2 thoughts on “Composing Dialog Or Just Nuts?

  1. After reading this, I became aware of just how often I invent dialog … all the freaking time! Anything will prompt it. Seriously. Anything. A TV show, news, stupid driver, cleaning the bathtub, doing dishes … I like to think of it as “rehearsing” because I’m not very good at spontaneous conversation (actually, am pretty bad at it). When there is something important coming up, I find the “rehearsal” gives me a chance to gather my thoughts into some kind of order. Of course, I rarely have used all the practice points, but they give me confidence I won’t be entirely caught flat footed. And, of course, I use it in my writing, too (which is really a more disciplined form of practice!)


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