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As I sit down and think about writing new things again – and it has been awhile – I am struck by the memory of once writing a long section of dialogue.  One character spoke, the other answered, back and forth, a conversation.  Problem was, I needed their scene to end in one place, but they kept going someplace else.  Try as I might, the characters went right on, thinking and speaking for themselves.  It was outright mutiny, I tell you.

The first time this happens, it is a bit unnerving and one wonders if one should not seek counseling.  After all, it is all coming out of the same head.  One’s imaginary friends should not be freelancing all over the place.  One should be able to control oneself, shouldn’t one?  One’s characters should know that they exist to serve the plot and should be a little more cooperative about it.  One should not require a good-sized mallet to get them back on track.

Today, I am far more relaxed about this sort of thing and far more likely to let them follow their own lead.  In one instance, just letting the conversation flow created an ending to a story that was far better and more logical than whatever I had planned, not that I admitted it to them.

I have convinced myself, for reasons of sanity, that there is a good reason for this to happen, that conversations are, by their very back and forth nature, improvisation and must arrive at a logical end.  Philosophically speaking, they will arrive at some sort of truth.  You will never be able to have that earnest talk with Aunt Tilly about her alcoholism if she will not even admit to the bruise on her forehead.

So for what it is worth, sit back and enjoy the ride.  Afterwards, take a look and see if maybe it is your plot that needs reshaping, not the conversation.

Categories: Writing
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