Friday, 13 October 2006

Filling in the blanks

I'll rave on about this at length at another time but I'm being driven to distraction by novels padded out with pointless dialogue.

Dialogue is not real conversation. Dialogue is an impression of conversation, with all the boring shit taken out. Oh, the odd 'um' and 'er' are fine. As is the occasional repetition for colour and emphasis. For colour and emphasis. But if an exchange neither furthers the plot nor tells us more about the characters, then it probably shouldn't be there. It is padding.

Consider this dialogue between characters. They're police officers talking about a third cop, who is the boyfriend of one of them. The third cop has gone missing. After ringing all their friends and the local hospital, cop 2 calls her superior. They have this stupefyingly dull exchange.

He listened in silence, then said, 'Do you know where he lives?'

'Kentish Town.' She told him the address.

'I think we'd better take a look.'

'Yes, that's what I thought.'

'See you there.'


Are you still awake? Are these the police officers you'd call in an emergency? Would you even trust them to find your missing cat?

Do you know where he lives? He's her boyfriend, for crying out loud.

And as for the rest of it. Oh, give me a break. It's s waste of bloody space. I don't want to spend my valuable reading time with thick people having boring conversations. I want an author to tell me a story, not pack the pages with the literary equivalent of bubble wrap.

This novel is crammed with exchanges like that. I'm only twenty pages from the end, yet I'm very, very close to giving up.

There, I feel much better now. Thank you for your attention.

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