Number 4 in The A to Z of the Writer’s Affliction, part of the A to Z blogging challenge.
‘How’s the novel coming on?’ enquired Miranda timidly, staring at her shoes. Whenever she met Arnold Pogostik, famed author of The Incredibly Cruel Creepy-Crawly That Kidnapped Kate, she became tongue-tied.
Arnold heaved a sigh of contentment. ‘Oh, fine,’ he pronounced grandiloquently. ‘I’m revising the dialogue right now.’
Miranda wondered if he meant that literally. Right now, he wasn’t revising anything, except perhaps his opinion of her. They were in Book in Bar, the Aix en Provence bookshop which boldly and unreservedly stocked two copies of One Green Bottle by Curtis Bausse. But perhaps Arnold was making mental notes about the way she spoke. ‘Dialogue?’ she echoed, fiddling anxiously with her earring.
Arnold took a swipe at a passing fly. ‘Especially the little bits between the actual words. You know, like, “She stared at her shoes,” or “She fiddled with her earring.” I think they lack originality. Need a bit more punch, as it were.’ He smashed a fist into the table, causing the tea cups to scatter. ‘See what I mean?’
‘Oh, totally!’ interjected Miranda wholeheartedly, performing a brief One-Legged King Pigeon Pose from her last yoga class. ‘It’s the “saying” words I have trouble with myself. I’m trying to avoid “She said” all the time. And use more variety describing the way they speak,’ she added emphatically, watching him energetically pick his nose.
‘Oh, quite,’ he agreed enthusiastically as he nibbled absent-mindedly at a booger. ‘It’s so much more lively, isn’t it?’ he demanded ferociously.
Miranda grimaced as a twinge of pain shot through her extensor hallucis brevis. She sat down, placing her body accurately upon the chair. ‘Dialogue needs to be conversational,’ she affirmed, casting about for an exciting adverb. Finding none, she glared at Arnold, her eyes characteristically aglow.
‘Yes, it’s always so dull,’ retorted Arnold Pogostik, cynically munching a chocolate macaroon as he leapt up and grabbed a book so randomly that it could have been One Green Bottle but wasn’t. ‘“What should we drink?” the girl asked. She had taken off her hat and put it on the table. “It’s pretty hot,” the man said.” See what I mean?’ Arnold looked at the cover. ‘Huh! Hemingway. So overrated,’ he opined, throwing the book disgustedly at a passing waitress.
‘Couldn’t write dialogue for toffee,’ declared Miranda as she smiled enigmatically at her Orange Pekoe. ‘You know, it’s been so nice talking to you,’ she remarked, bringing the conversation to an unexpected end. ‘But I’m afraid I must bring our conversation to an unexpected end.’