And, for those of you familiar with the BBC’s Sherlock, I call this one:
A Study in Orange
I made the patterns myself, using their pixelated photographs, traced them onto the pumpkin, carved them, lit them up…and voila: Sherlock Holmes & Dr. John Watson – Jack-o-lantern!
In trying to process what really wins me over in a book, television show, or a movie, I find that I like so many, many things. In books, I want to “see, feel, hear, taste and smell” what’s going on – like a movie in my head but better, since I can involve the other senses beyond sight and sound. In TV and movies, I look for the subtle emotion playing on the actors’ faces that can communicate volumes just with a look. I love description. I love sensory words and imagery. I love narrative flow. I even enjoy action and plot and climax and resolution.
But I guess if I had to pick one thing that really wins me over, I guess it would have to be dialogue. I love me some witty banter, and outpouring of emotion, and violent arguments, and sarcastic mockery, and sweet nothings, and, well, you get the idea.
I have always enjoyed listening to drunk people talk. Since I am always sober, it just amuses me. This was particularly amusing in college. Here’s a little sampling from my book, The Time Minders, that was inspired from certain conversations I overheard way back in my co-ed years:
“Gah!! Gah-damn, absolutely fantabulous!!” Aardvark bellowed.
“Truly, shagging awesome, mate,” Bombardier agreed.
Angela often wondered if the two of them really spoke English as their primary language – at least when they were drunk.
“Wallabies, mate.” Bombardier commented.
“Huh?” Zeke asked, puzzlement sounding in his voice.
“I think you mean wallabies, not wannabes, Farm,” Bombardier giggled, obviously amused at his joke. Angela just barely got it, and she was stone sober.
“Huh?” Zeke asked again, not following.
One of my favorite shows on television is BBC1′s Sherlock. I love it for so many reasons. It re-imagines Sherlock Holmes and John Watson into the 21st Century. It is fast-paced, brilliant mystery television. It has fully-fleshed out, beautiful characters with a rich inter-relationship. But the dialogue – now there’s the rub! Sherlock’s dialogue is to die for:
Sherlock Holmes: Are you alright?
Dr John Watson: Yes, of course I’m alright.
Sherlock Holmes: Well, you have just killed a man.
Dr John Watson: Yes… that’s true… but he wasn’t a very nice man.
Sherlock Holmes: No… no, he wasn’t really, was he?
Dr John Watson: No, frankly, a bloody awful cabbie.
Sherlock Holmes: That’s true, he was a bad cabbie. You should’ve seen the route he took us to get here.
That’s a thing of beauty, isn’t it? And the whole series is like that!
Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series is a gem because of its constant barrage of witty dialogue. Here’s a bit from Turn Coat:
“I’m not a doctor,” Butters said.
We’d done this dance several times. “You are the Mighty Butters,” I said. “You can do anything.”
“I’m a medical examiner. I cut up corpses.”
“If it helps, think of this as a preventive autopsy.”
And as for feature films? Well, I don’t think it gets any better than one of my favorites, Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (I will not hide the fact that I am an extreme Trekkie):
So, if you’re writing dialogue, make it flow. Listen around you to how people talk. Enjoy yourself. It can be so much fun.
And feel free to post some of your favorite dialogue bits here. It’s always great to study the masters!
Why do I not have a voice recorder, or a notepad and pencil, or heck, even a tissue and lipstick on my bedside table when I need it?
I’m gonna rectify this situation tonight. You can bet on that.
As I laid me down to sleep last night, I had a huge trove of ideas come to me in a crazy bombardment blast – all for the novel I am working on. And I was so danged tired. I didn’t want to get up and write them all down. I tried doing the Sherlock thing and create a memory palace, just so I could be sure to remember all of them – and so I wouldn’t have to get my tired, lazy butt out of bed. But no luck. My memory palace is a dilapidated shack, it appears, and piled so high with junk that I can’t find much of anything.
It was sometime around 2:00 a.m. (Nope, doctor husband was not in bed yet.) It was cold out of the covers. I really didn’t want to go downstairs, find a writing utensil and paper and write it down, or boot up my computer and type it up. (Scientific studies have shown that screen light from televisions and electronic devices contribute heavily to wakefulness and therefore insomnia – can’t have that!)
So I just stumbled about my room, sort of aimlessly, until I located a piece of yellow construction paper (compliments of my daughter) and a very, very dull pencil. I jotted down my notes in the dimmed light of my bathroom.
And today? Well, I am still trying to work out some of the delirious scribbles I jotted down last night.
I’ll let you know tomorrow how it all works out, and whether these insanely brilliant ideas from the soul’s midnight last night find life in the chapters I’m working on.
Oh, and before I forget – yep, I’m putting a notepad and pen (gotta make sure the ink flows) by my bed, RIGHT after I post this!
Sherlock over on BBC1 is my obsession right now. A big shout-out to my amazing graphic artist friend The Wrath of John. Go follow him over on tumblr. He rocks. Guess who I’m gonna ask to design my book covers whenever an agent and publisher fall in line?