I’m still working on getting to know my character. Today is an exercise on character development through dialogue, which provides a writer with a way to reveal character and relationships without telling the reader anything in the narration. Characters need to have a distinct appearance and personality and this unique personality can be conveyed to the reader through the character’s words.
Some grammar to remember when writing dialogue:
- Commas, periods, question marks and exclamation points go inside the close speech mark.
- If dialogue is broken at the end of a sentence, then resumed, the restarted speech will begin with a capital letter but the dialogue tag will begin with a lowercase letter. (“Hi,” she said. “How are you?”)
- If the speech is interrupted mid-sentence, it resumes with a lower case letter. (“How have you,” she questioned, “been feeling lately.”)
Prompt – Your main character has invited you to lunch. Where does he/she meet you? What is ordered? What do you talk about?**
**My main character did not invite me to lunch; she invited a supporting character from the story.
My Exercise –
“Welcome to Red Robin! Would you like to order drinks or do you need a moment?” The bubbly waitress asked.
“Orange smoothie,” the young girl crossed her arms against her chest.
“I’ll have water with lemon,” her companion smiled politely.
The waitress nodded and bounced off to get their drinks. The young girl slumped down in the booth with a pout.
“Look, I know…” the woman on the opposite side of the table started.
“I don’t want to talk about it,” the girl interrupted sullenly.
“Fine,” the woman sighed in resignation.
The two locked eyes across the table. The woman broke the stare first and the girl smiled as if a huge victory had been won.
The waitress returned with a plain glass of water, lemon perched on the side and a much fancier glass filled to the brim with orange-tinted vanilla ice cream topped with whipped cream and a slice of orange for decoration.
“Are you ready to order?” The waitress asked after placing the drinks on the paper coasters in front of her customers.
“Cheeseburger,” the girl dramatically rolled her eyes before continuing, “but I have to substitute a veggie burger.” She stared pointedly across the table.
“Make that two,” the woman replied unfazed and handed her menu to the waitress.
With a puzzled look, the waitress took the menus and left to submit their order.
“I didn’t know you were so eager to eat real meat, dear.”
“Ewww!” Her nose wrinkled and her body twitched. “I’m just so mad.” Her rigid, belligerent posture deflated like a balloon.
“I am sorry, you know.” Leaning over and reaching her hand across the table, the woman brushed a strand of silky brown hair behind the girl’s ear.
Leaning into the touch, the girl frowned. “If you were really sorry, we wouldn’t have to move.”
Slowly pulling her hand away, the woman sat back heavily. “I’m sorry that it’s going to be hard on you, but I’m not sorry that we are moving. It’s final and no amount of pouting or smarting off is going to change that.”
The waitress returned with a basket of steak fries, placing it in the center of the table and slicing through the thick tension of the moment.