Writing dialogue: Sometimes all you have to do is hit the timer and tell your characters “Have at it!” They will say everything they should with the right beats and perfectly measured punctuation. And you’ll just sit on the sidelines, waving your pom-poms and shouting, “Go, team, go!” (unless you’re a more energetic cheerleader).
Other times…well. Other times, your characters will abandon your scene to sit at a ritzy French café and drink bad Bordeaux. And no matter how much you may try to appeal to their better, sober nature, they will ignore you and keep right on drinking until they get soggy-headed drunk and speak in slushed French accents.
Then, there is the dreaded and hated other other times. Your characters are talking a mile a minute. They’re lovely and funny and…all of their dialogue can be boiled down to “Blah blah blah. Please pass the Grey Poupon. Blah blah blah. Witty stuff, darling. Blah blah blah. Oh, really?! I didn’t know that. Did you know that? Well, isn’t that something blah blah blah.”
It isn’t always easy to tell the sparkle from the blahbitty blah blahs. It might all sound like sparkle. But if you can substitute “blah blah blah” for the dialogne… 😦 Nope. That ain’t sparkle.
If you stop and wonder why this or that scene is dragging on too long, there’s probably a bad case of blahs in there.
If your characters break the scene’s tension with dialogue that doesn’t know where to stop, there’s blahs to blame.
If your characters wind up talking like a cheap Bond villain, oh yeah. You can bet that there is way too much blah blah blahing going on.
I’ve had my fair share of blah blah blah moments in my stories. They just sort of trickle in one word at a time until I get that itchy feeling in my head that this conversation is going nowhere except on and on and on. And what should have been a quick one-two punch action scene has turned into a “Please pass the salt and do have a nice cup of tea” talk fest. (Not that my characters are ever that polite.)
I think I’ll end this post now before the blah blah blahs can sneak in and take over. After all, if you give them a chance, they will take over. Give them too many chances and they’d probably take over the world. And that just wouldn’t be any good.