Dialog. Short, Sweet, & Pungent.

Sometimes, it's good to break rules, shake things up a bit. Sometimes, bad grammar, fractions, run-ons, and the like are necessary in order to create an affect that transcends the ordinary. The rule that I shared yesterday is another rule that was made to be broken.

Here is an example from my story Dreams:


"Debris incoming," the computer interrupted.

"The scrolls, dragon," Lelea said with a sigh. "We found the scrolls." She smiled at him, her eyes empty as though she wasn't really seeing him. Ahern felt chills run down his spine, and he shuddered.

A dull thud—like the fall of a dead body—sounded against the ship's hull and echoed through the cockpit.

"Computer," Lelea said, "retrieve the scrolls and open the hatch."

"Negative. Dysfunctional."

Lelea hit a few buttons. "Both the hand and the hatch are now functional."

"Preparing to comply."

Those eyes looked at him again. "Ahern, I'll need your help to pull in the body."

"I thought you said it was the scrolls."

"He is."


Some of these responses are actions, reactions, thoughts, and feelings, all rolled up into one. "I thought you said it was the scrolls," Ahern said. There is emotion in those words: frustration, annoyance, disbelief, jealousy. Those words are practically torn out of him.

Her response—"he is"—is also action, reaction, thought and feeling. It's as though her words have stabbing power. They punch him in the gut. They have impact. Short. Sweet. Pungent.

That's the time when I drop all the gluing prose—the reactions and feelings and thoughts—when I want the words to stab.

Here is another example from the same story. Ahern puts the "scrolls" on a bed and then watches the kid wake up. The resulting conversation isn't very friendly:

The white-haired boy stirred and moaned. "Where am I?" he muttered.

"Good question."

"At least you could answer it."

"Suppose I could."

The boy stared at him, a smile spreading across his face. "You remind me of
someone I know."

Ahern cocked an eyebrow at him.

"You do not like me, do you?" the kid asked.

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