Ready For The World – Driver’s Education:
Fifteen-year-old Brandon Delacruz’s wants are simple. He wants to be popular, drives a cool car, and has the girl of his dreams on his arm. Instead, he’ll have to settle for being on the honor roll, riding his ten-speed bike, and having his best friends, Josh and Ally beside him as they learn the ins and outs of high school.
But as Brandon begins to discover feelings for Ally, a tragedy occurs that changes their lives. And now, he’ll spend the rest of the year sorting through his complicated feelings and his uncertain relationship with Ally…all while keeping his grades up. Because unlike getting a driver’s license, life doesn’t offer a practice test. Brandon will have to rise and meet the challenges of the real world, whether he’s ready for it not.
Ready For The World – Superstar:
He has the girl, the grades, and now, a calling. Brandon Delacruz is going to write the next great novel and he isn’t even sixteen yet. It looks like 1987 is going to be his best year ever.
But his best year quickly turns into his most confusing. Because instead of one special girl in his life, there are two. There’s Ally, his childhood friend, and first love who has turned into the biggest enigma in his life. And then there’s Rachel, a brash and beautiful girl that’s as good a photographer as she is a pool player.
Brandon will learn that life can’t be easily rewritten or edited like a novel. But like mystery novels, things in life aren’t always what they seem. Like comedic books, life is often funny and hilarious. And like the best love stories, life has its share of twists and turns, ups and downs, that are filled with beauty, grace, and sometimes heartbreak.
We’ve all seen a movie where a character says something so cringe-worthy that we make a face. And if there are too many stretches of bad dialogue, one of two things can happen:
A) People quit watching and look for something else.
B) People keep watching but turn the movie into a drinking game.
In either situation, the moviemakers probably didn’t get the reaction that they wanted from the audience.
A good writer will show the reader how it feels and sounds to be in that world. And the dialogue is just one of the ways characters communicate with one another and express themselves.
For example, here are two friends having a discussion on what they did last night.
Darius raised his head. “How are you, Dan?”
“Did you see the baseball game between the Dodgers and Giants last night?”
“Yes, I did,” Darius said with a frown. “As you know, I’m a big Giants fan.”
There’s nothing grammatically wrong with that exchange. But it doesn’t sound the way two friends might actually sound. And that’s where nuance or subtext comes in.
Let’s try again:
“Hello, Darius,” Dan said. His smile stretched across his entire face.
Darius looked up and shook his head. “Dan.”
Dan sat down and put his chair right beside Darius. They were an inch apart. “So,” he said as he put on his Dodger hat. “See the game?”
“Yeah,” Darius said. He gave Dan a playful shove that caused Dan to cackle in a fit of laughter. A second later, Darius couldn’t help but join him.
I used almost the same words of dialogue in both examples. But the second example implies a longtime friendship between the two men. Dan is a Dodger fan and Darius is not. They’re not afraid to tease each other about their opposing fandom. But they’re not about to come to blows over it.
This example also avoids the “information dump” kind of dialogue. In the first example, Darius says:
“As you know, I’m a big Giants fan.”
If the two characters were really good friends, they would already know this and wouldn’t have to say it. Authors use dialogue to relay important information, character relationships, and feelings. But it needs to sound “right” or it will stop the momentum of the story.
If you’re having trouble with dialogue, try observing people. Listen to what they’re saying and at their tone. Are they happy? Angry? Joking? See what they are doing as they speak. Are they sitting close together or keeping their distance? What are they doing with their hands? Where are they looking?
And once you have a line of dialogue written, read it aloud. Does it flow off the tongue? Does it sound like something the character would say? Are all the words necessary or can it be shortened? People often speak with a verbal shorthand when talking with friends and a more formal style with a boss, authority figure, or a stranger.
Writing dialogue isn’t easy. But dialogue is more than what a character says. It’s all in what they do, how they speak, and what they don’t say. That’s where the uniqueness of the character is. And that is what makes the reader keep turning the page.
About the Author: Charmeljun Gallardo
Charmeljun Gallardo is a former Radiologist and author. His first book is Ready for the World young adult book series. He graduated from San Francisco State University with a Creative Writing degree in 1996. He is a writer, photography enthusiast, sports fan, movie geek, stroke survivor, and an adventurous foodie. He lives in San Diego, California with his wife and son.
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