ANNOUNCING Dialogues: A Collection of Creative Conversations
Hi, bookworms. This year I’ve given myself a challenge to write one dialogue for every week of 2018. Collected together, I’m calling these fiction pieces Dialogues: A Collection of Creative Conversations. But first, what is a dialogue?
According to my Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, a dialogue is “a written composition in which two or more characters are represented as conversing,” secondly, “a conversation between two or more persons; also : a similar exchange between a person and something else (as a computer)” or “an exchange of ideas and opinions . . . the conversational element of a literary or dramatic composition,” among a few other possibilities.
So which of these fits best with what I am doing? Well, my dialogues are certainly written compositions, and there is always more than one person or character conversing. The dialogues are often an exchange of ideas or opinions. And this collection focuses on the conversational element of a literary composition. In fact, it is solely the conversational element that I am using.
So, why the dialogue?
Because there’s a rich literary history of dialogues, from Plato to Hume; from Cicero to Galileo. The dialogue as a form has a long tradition, especially in nonfiction, though the line is fuzzy. I say fuzzy because while the dialectical dialogues were used to convey ideas and argue against oppositions to philosophical, theological, and scientific positions, the conversations were, by and large, fictional.
My dialogues are purely fictional. They are, in a sense, short stories, but stories stripped of all else that one associates with the form. No non-dialogue adjectives, no verbs indicated outside of conversation — only an occasional marker for non-verbal sounds such as laughter or crying. This isn’t to say that setting is not implied or described in some instances, though certainly it’s not a concern in many of my dialogues. Perhaps the most conspicuous missing element of traditional short stories is that of a narrator. But rather than looking for what’s missing, I’d encourage my readers to look for what’s still there, embedded within the dialogue.
Another reason one should try their hand at the dialogue — beyond an attempt at a traditional form — is that it makes a good exercise for writing realistically spoken back-and-forths. When stripping away all else, you have only the words of your characters. In this naked form, you as a writer can more easily see weaknesses in your dialogue and then work to improve the conversational element of your fiction. It’s a great practice.
I, however, am not practicing dialogue. The voices and style of each piece is deliberate. Many of my dialogues have an apparent roughness to them. In most of what I’ve written thus far it’s not my intention to make overly realistic conversations. With many of my dialogues, I am aiming at a different sort of aesthetic than realism. Though as I continue to create them, it’s possible I may change course (as I write this, I have roughly eight completed dialogues).
So if I’m not practicing the craft of written conversation, what am I doing this for? Truth be told, I’m partly following the muse. I was inspired with the idea to do this after noticing a couple of dialogues sitting around in my unpublished stories folder. I looked at them and thought, These are different — odd, but still good. It’s just they’re different enough and short enough that it feels like they need some companion pieces. That’s when the idea of a collection sprang to mind, so I began writing dialogues to see if there was any possibility behind this thought. While I won’t claim that all of my creative ideas come to fruition, it seems this is one the muse wishes me to pursue to its end. Concepts for new dialogues are coming in steadily, but not overwhelmingly.
It’s not only the muse’s calling which has given me inspiration; I’m also inspired by all the bloggers who challenge themselves to blog daily or weekly come the new year. I, like these bloggers (and many other writers), set my own schedule. I’ve never had a schedule like this. Rarely have I had a deadline for my writing. Yes, I’ve written a few dialogues ahead, but I plan to post a new dialogue once a week and can see how easy it would be to fall behind. So it’s a schedule I must take as seriously as my blogger friends take theirs.
The plan is to post updates both on my website and on a contents page here on Medium. At about the halfway mark I’ll begin seriously sending my dialogues to magazines, journals, reviews, etc. who might be willing to showcase a piece of this enterprise. Links to featured and published dialogues will appear in the on the contents page and on my website.
What I am really aiming to do is to make a book that’s different and entertaining. I want to create something that coalesces together, despite its disparate parts — it’s many voices and many ways of presenting dialogue. In it you’ll find a variety of subjects explored in these dialogues. I expect some to be quite challenging to read while others will be much more accessible. Once the book comes out or if you’re reading a separately published piece, my advice is if you can’t make it through one, try the next dialogue. It’s likely to be easier to read.
I am excited to really begin challenging myself while creating my first book of short stories. I’d like to thank both my wife, Libby, and my best friend, Mike, for the support I know they’re going to show along the way. And thanks in advance to the bookworms, fans, and followers who read what I’ve written and give me claps and encouragement. I hope in return I’ve given you some creative conversations that resonate with you for a long time to come.
2018 Writing Challenge:
a “contents” page for Dialogues: A Collection of Creative Conversations
About the Author:
Randal Eldon Greene is a writer from the tri-state area of Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota. His writing has appeared in various journals, zines, magazines, and anthologies. Greene works full time as a seeing eye human for his blind dog, Missy. His typos are tweeted @AuthorGreene and his website is found at Authorgreene.com