So, I don’t know how many other writers do this, but I personally blame my background in theater. You see, many times when a scene comes to me, the dialogue comes to me first. So, I usually end up jotting down the dialogue first and fleshing the stage action in later (I even call it “stage action” see! see!). My writing notebook is full of stuff like this:
1: Well, I always wanted a crack at playing Bottom.
2: A crack? Really? (snickers) [Ed. Yes, I write stage directions too!]
1: Shut up.
2: So, you aspire to be a jack ass then?
This exchange has been in my notebook for many a long year, and for awhile I had no idea who would say it to whom (hence that 1 to 2 business, my default for these exchanges when I don’t know who the voices in my head belong to). Now I’ve got a story this “Bottom” exchange might work with, I’ve just got to find a way to shunt it in.
To take a completed real life example, here’s something from my last MS Frederica and the Heir to the Underworld.
Here is the original unedited dialogue from the writing notebook:
DEG: I know it was your birthday. I neglected to get you a present.
FREDDY: Deg, you…this…us- that’s enough.
D:(grins) I thought so too.
D: Behold your present and enjoy. (kisses her)
F: Now wait. Are you my present or just that kiss?
D: Either. Both.
F: I’d like more of my present then. (D kisses F) Hey, if you’re my b-day gift does that mean you’re popping out of the cake later? Will tassles be involved?
And here’s the finished version:
Deg leaned forward and the stubble on his chin whispered against her neck. “I have another present for you. Since you declined my first.”
Freddy let herself melt back against him. “Deg, you and me together, that’s present enough for anybody.”
“I thought so too. Behold your present! Long may you enjoy it!” He threw his arms out in a grand gesture and nearly overbalanced off the horse. He leaned around and dipped her awkwardly back to kiss him; one of those quick, sharp kisses that smacked their lips apart and went to Freddy’s head faster than Roman wine.
She licked her lips and tilted her head back into the crook of his arm to look at him. “Now wait. Are you my present? Or just that one kiss?”
She mulled this over. “Hmm…so if you’re my birthday present, does that mean you’re popping out of the cake?” She screwed her face into a very serious frown. “Will there be pink pasties involved? Spinning tassels?”
I blame all the Shakespeare I read during my impressionable youth. (grins)