#AmWriting Back to the Basics – Dialogue 3
Dialogue Part 3
As You Know Bobs
One common problem with dialogue is the ‘As You Know Bob’ syndrome. Beginning (and sometimes not-so-beginning) writers have all this knowledge of the story in their head. And this information needs to be given to the reader so things make sense.
Unfortunately, sometimes this trap jumps right up and captures us.
“Hey Bob, how’s it going?” Joe asked, sitting at the table.
Bob nodded as he continued to endlessly stir his coffee.
“So Bob, you know Jesse, your cousin who got married last year? She’s coming to town with her new husband who’s a tax accountant. They have their two kids, Billy and Sally. And they might even be bringing that dog you gave them, Old Blue.”
Now, if you knew Bob, would you ever sit down and start telling him details like this about people he already knows? Bob would be looking at you like you’re crazy. In fact, his response my go like this:
Bob glanced up. “Joe, what’s wrong with you? I already know all that about my cousin and her family. Why are you telling me?”
Another common problem with dialogue is repetition. If something is said in dialogue, it doesn’t then have to be shown in exposition (and visa-versa)
Tony nodded sharply. “We’ll go around the rocks, check for any traps.”
Sally patted her horse’s neck. “And after the bridge?”
“We’ll just have to see.”
Tony and Sally spurred their horses into a gallop, racing down the trail. They reached the boulders and checked for any traps. There were none. The two riders continued down the trail to the river, and the bridge. Then they crossed.
“Now what?” Sally asked.
Tony scratched his chin thoughtfully. “Well, let’s head to the town. Dr. Evans might be in. Then we can take him back to the farm to look old Joe over.”
Tony and Sally rode on, over the bridge and reached the town. They dismounted in front of Dr. Evan’s house, tied the reins to the post and went in to see if the doctor was available.
Sally stopped inside the door. “Doctor? Are you here? We need some help back at the farm.”
Readers are smart. They can figure out what’s going on with just subtle hints. If they are reading a story, and the author keeps repeating the same information again and again, most readers are going to get bored and stop reading.