Friday, July 22, 2011

An Important, if Obvious Realization about Dialogue

OR: A Realization Courtesy of Edward Albee
I'm writing a novel. Sometimes just saying that phrase impresses people, but really, hang on to your impressed face until the novel's done--or even better, hang on until it's done AND good. 
Anyway. One element I've been struggling with is dialogue. I mean, I can put two characters in a room and have them talk and their words will sound fairly realistic--not too wooden or strained. But there was still something bothering me about several of the conversations in my book. I'd read the scene, tweak a few words, delete something obvious, move something around, and it'd be better, but still not quite right.
This summer, I'm helping out in an American Literature class at Texas State and the kids are reading Albee's Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf. It's one of my favorite plays, but I hadn't read it for years. Re-reading the play yesterday I realized what was wrong with my dialogue and what was so right about Albee's.
 (Here's where the obviousness might start for you fellow writers out there, but I was blown away.)
 Too often the dialogue in my novel is about something. My characters are discussing plot points, important facts about their past or their present, they're chattering away about things that should be remembered by the reader.
 Now, back to Albee.  Virginia Woolf really doesn't have much of a plot--George and Martha have a party, Nick and Honey comes over, everyone's ruined forever. That's pretty much it. And that frees Albee to focus on the subtext, the hidden struggles that the characters are going through. The really dramatic stuff, the plot-heavy stuff, happened long before the play actually starts. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Palin Not Running/ Santorum Not Running/ Gingrich Not Dead and Perry's Secret Dilema

more thoughts on the GOP candidates...

Sarah Palin...still not running for President...still not going to run for President.

       It's pretty clear to me that once she says she's out then the media will stop paying attention to her. Right now she commands attention. She's not going to say she's out and chop off her own publicity at the knees.

       Also, and the press will eventually turn on her for this, I think that she will NEVER actually say she's not running. She'll combine a little bit of Trump 2011 and Clinton 2008 and string along her potential campaign for months and months for the extra TV time (that's the Trump part). Don't be surprised if there's even rumors of her throwing her hat in the ring at the RNC convention (that's the Clinton 2008 part) and of her joining the ticket in the number 2 slot again. 

       It is in Sarah Palin's best interests if she remains the legendary GOP savior forever perched at the edge of the race. In no way is it in her best interest to get in the race and have to deal with the actual dirty mechanics of campaigning. She gets the best of both worlds now--hyper coverage every time she says a thing, but not the real scrutiny that derailed her the last time.

Santorum (google it) isn't actually running for President

       He's running for his old Senate seat. This may be obvious to everyone but it just occurred to me. He gets national attention (sort of, or at least more than he'd get if he was just running for Senate) and theoretically gets to look all statesmany and wise. This enables him to pivot to the Senate race (and transfer what money he's raised to that campaign) and say that he traveled the country, has spoke to the people, and now has the broad experiences to make an even better Senator than he was last time. He'll still lose to Casey in the general, but there will be a large and vocal contingent of Republicans who will welcome Santorum back home with smiling faces and open arms.

Gingrich isn't dead yet--he's like a movie serial killer, don't turn your back on him. McCain was declared dead in the primary back in 2007.

Perry doesn't actually want to run. 

I've had trouble trying to figure out what Rick Perry was up to. For awhile I thought he actually wanted to be VP and wouldn't actually enter the race. Now, it's looking increasingly likely that he will run for President. But why is he waiting? Is he waiting for the debt ceiling impasse to end? Is he just biding his time for some reason?

Here's what I now think, although I feel less confident in my Perry predictions then in my other forecasts. I think he wasn't planning on running, that he wanted to flirt with running so he could get the attention and then be an automatic, stone cold VP lock.

 Seriously, Romney/Perry would be a dangerous ticket.

But then people began to tell him that Romney might not win. That someone Bachmann might win. Someone as conservative as Bachmann will need a relative moderate on her ticket--not Perry. Once Romney's hold on the nomination began to slip, Team Perry realized they needed to make their own noise. That hitching themselves to the Mitt Train was not the only option.

However, I think that behind this hesitation is also the fact that Perry doesn't actually want to run for President. It sucks. It's tiring. He has to go to places like Iowa and NC and SC where he's not automatically worshiped. Perry hasn't had to introduce himself to voters in twenty years, not since he ran for Lt. Gov with W. way back in the day, and he's not eager to start now. 

And if he does run, then I think he's going to fall apart because he hasn't had to do serious campaigning in so long. This is the Perry dilemma--don't run and risk your relevance vanishing, or run  and risk getting all dirty with the grime of real electioneering.