#5 – DIALOGUE – PURPOSEFUL

RESTORE BY NUMBERS

I provide a passage from a master that has been vandalized (by me) at the numbered locations.  You restore the original. 

THE CRIME:

Bill’s Café, on the A30 near Bagshot:

“Tea, please, Bill.  Two sugars.” The constable addressed the man behind the counter (1).

Bill responded (2), “Good morning, Constable Pearson.  Filthy day.”

“What’s on that plate, Bill – pebbles from Portsmouth?” asked the constable jocularly (3).

“Buttered buns, as well you know.” Bill responded with a tight smile (4).

“Oh!  I’ll have two, then.  Thanks . . . Now then, lads!”  Constable Pearson addressed the customers in the café  (5).  “Anyone who wants his lorry checked from top to bottom can leave right away. . .”  He wanted to stop the stampede for the door, and it worked (6).  “That’s better.  Take a look at this picture, please.” He handed the photo to a customer (7).

“What are you after him for, constable – cycling without lights?” asked Harry (8).

The constable looked serious (9). “Never mind the jokes, Harry – pass the picture around.” He raised his voice and said (10),  “Anybody given a lift to that bloke?”

“Not me,” said one (11).

“No,” said another (12).

“Sorry, constable.” A third one said this politely (13).

“Never clapped eyes on him.” said a fourth, with conviction (14).

“Thank you, lads.”  Constable Pearson flashed everyone a smile (15).  “If you see him, report it.  Cheerio.”

“Constable?” said the café proprietor (16).

“Yes, Bill?” answered the constable (17).

He looked pointedly at the baked goods (18). “You haven’t paid for the buns.”

Clue:

Recall the tips from the dialogue series, #1 through 4.  Apply them.

Copy and paste the passage elsewhere in order to edit it.  Then check E.J.’s comments below.

A Tip:

Less is better.  Almost always.

THE ORIGINAL (Ken Follett in “Eye of the Needle”)

Bill’s Café, on the A30 near Bagshot:

“Tea, please, Bill.  Two sugars.” (1)

(2) “Good morning, Constable Pearson.  Filthy day.”

“What’s on that plate, Bill – pebbles from Portsmouth?” (3)

“Buttered buns, as well you know.” (4)

“Oh!  I’ll have two, then.  Thanks . . . Now then, lads! (5) Anyone who wants his lorry checked from top to bottom can leave right away. . . (6) That’s better.  Take a look at this picture, please.” (7)

“What are you after him for, constable – cycling without lights?” (8)

(9) “Never mind the jokes, Harry – pass the picture around. (10) Anybody given a lift to that bloke?”

“Not me.” (11)

“No.” (12)

“Sorry, constable.” (13)

“Never clapped eyes on him.” (14)

“Thank you, lads. (15) If you see him, report it.  Cheerio.”

“Constable?” (16)

“Yes, Bill?” (17)

(18) “You haven’t paid for the buns.”

E.J.’s Comments:

Amazing writing!  Not a single “he said”.  No adverbial tags.  No action beats.  No exclamation points.  Not a single redundant or unnecessary word.

Bonus Tip:  Note how the speeches are designed to reveal character, suggest mood or emotion, and advance the story.  Note how the character names personalize or humanize the situation, and yet these names will not occur ever again in this novel.  I personally have never seen such masterful dialogue in all my reading life . . . in a novel.  Writers of scripts or screenplays, of course, do this all the time.

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About EJ Lavoie

Writer and independent publisher with website www.WhiskyJackPublishing.ca
This entry was posted in RESTORE BY NUMBERS, WRITING and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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