It was a cold, rainy Tuesday evening on the island. The chill in the air beckoned for me to head to bed and made my mind drowsy, not wanting to write yet another blog post for the many who look forward to reading them each week (I’m hoping this is more than wishful thinking). COVID is at bay and worst, the person to be interviewed is quite some miles away. So, a virtual interview was conducted. Well, not through any video conferencing, but a few simple questions through an email. By now, you must know that my imagination runs wild – from the days of daydreaming in my classes, to now having increased conversations with myself as COVID provides an excuse as to why I am so anti-social.
Today, you have a front-row seat to the next crazy thing that Sheryl’s mind thought of. Why that title then? I know you don’t see where I am going as yet but bear with me. Here goes:
A poised Georgia Peach walked into my makeshift office, wondering how I was able to cope in such a cluttered and cramped space. Her essence breathed Atlanta, Georgia. Later on, when I heard where she studied, I noted that she really must love where she grew up. She loved Atlanta so much that she obtained her B.S. degree in Computer Information Science from Clark Atlanta University and her MBA in Leadership Development from Brenau University.
I started the interview slow and steady. “What is the most memorable event of your childhood? I asked.”
Sydni Jones Wellington’s response was mind-blowing, “I would have to say the most memorable event of my childhood was when I was in the third grade. We were given the assignment to write a story using our spelling words for the week. The words for the week were: trip, rip, slip, dip, strip, lip, clip, flip, etc. I have always loved creative writing, so I was super excited to craft a story from this list of random words.”
“I centred my story around a little girl with a wicked sense of humour. The young girl would strip bananas of their peelings, haphazardly tossing the debris onto the pavement, only to hide in the nearby bushes waiting for an elderly person to slip on them, trip on the concrete, hopefully, flip upside down, and in the process rip their clothing. Granted, it was an innocent little story, but I will never forget the look on my teacher’s face when she saw the title of my work – The Stripper; it was complete with drawings of banana peelings on either side of the title.”
What a mouth full I thought. This lady is surely detail orientated. I wonder if her books are vividly descriptive as her response. I went ahead with my next question, “Tell me about your most recent work.”
“In my most recent work, 15 Years To Life, after ending her fifteen-year marriage, Leaf Lawson is rediscovering who she is, not only as a newly single mother but also as a woman. When Tavin McGhee, a classmate she has known since the fourth grade, makes his admiration known, she struggles between being flattered by his pursuit and continuing to relish in her newfound freedom and peace. Will Leaf fall for Tavin, or will she continue to float freely in the winds of singleness?” She answered in three sentences.
No need to go any further. Writing this, I laughed so much. I thought of the horror on your face and the outrage you may have felt due to the incorrect dialogue formats. How many were you able to spot? Dialogues are so complex, and it takes time to know how and when to write certain things; it’s about what is best to enhance your story. But here are some simple tips I will share now, and I hope you share some in the comments section below.
- Thoughts are always italicized – not the actions related to the thoughts but only the thoughts themselves.
- For lengthy dialogue, do not use a closing quotation mark when continuing in a new paragraph. I also suggest that you interject actions throughout as it not only helps to develop the emotions of the character, but it seems more natural. Who talks for so long while standing or sitting rigidly?
- Dialogue tags at the end of direct speech never begins with a capitalized word unless it is a proper noun.
To see how many things I made up with my wild imagination and how many are facts, check out Sydni’s website, social media information, or contact her. With so many books published, I am sure she will have much more to tell you about dialogues than I do.
“Cheers,” says Sheryl.