Smack my Face with a Brick, Please!


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This funny photo made me think of the vices of writing dialogue. As writers, we tend to dramatize simple sentences, to show off our skills. However, when it comes to dialogue, it’s better to tone down the parade of skills.

Speak in the language of the character. You can’t expect a college professor to use words like “yo'” and “ain’t”; and you can’t expect a man from the wrong side of the streets to speak in the style used in the picture, either.

Even when the sentence in the photo is extremely sophisticated, it does give a clear example of what might go wrong in a dialogue.

What do you think about this photo? Personally, it made me laugh for quite some time!

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21 thoughts on “Smack my Face with a Brick, Please!”

  1. Good inspiration too Maraux… I’m gonna think of some variations. Also could be done in the positive: “I want to pulse my perioral labial against you vermillion zones peatedly until by frontal infraorbitla nerve rings with pleasure…” (To kiss repeatedly, I suppose passinately(!), in case u r wonderin’)

  2. Character tone is something I’m very picky about. My novel has a simple but genuine farmer, fourth-wall-breaking thief, hypereducated economic advisor, and a former member of a military unit. Making them sound distinct is quite a challenge, but fun. 🙂

  3. Maybe it’s just me, but I love those sophisticated sentences – it’s the sort of banter we used to have as kids in secondary school (probably trying to make ourselves sound older and more well educated than we actually were).

    “Please hold still a moment – I would like to introduce you to the fruit of an East end brickie’s labour’s: a piece of fresh London Clay, heated in the fire of Welsh coal, cooled by Essex air and bought by myself specifically for the purpose of showing it to you – close up.”

  4. Sounds a little painful. I, personally prefer being smacked in the face by a wibbly wobbly jelly rather than a brick but each to his own! Seriously being blind I don’t know what, exactly the picture shows. Please can you enlighten me? You make a good point about people speaking in accordance with their profession and/or social origin. I think that the writer so far as is humanly possible needs to forget their university education and/or attendance at an expensive fee paying school and think themselves into the person they are portraying. For example the average armed robber is not going to say “I’m most terribly sorry but would you mind terribly, ladies and gentleman lying flat on the ground while the nice bank staff hand over the money, that is, of course if the bank employees are minded so to do. If inconvenient I can always come back and hold up the bank on another day”. Or perhaps he would! Kevin

    1. Hi Kevin,

      Thank you for your comment. I am sorry that I didn’t explain the picture. It’s a conversation between two people. It goes like this:

      Person 1: How do you politely tell someone you want to hit them with a brick.
      Person 2: One wishes to acquaint your facial features with a fundamental item used in building walls. Repeatedly.
      Person 1: That was the most beautiful thing I have ever read.

      So, after I giggled, I decided that this photo would make a good example about unrealistic dialogue. I hope it made you laugh.

      Cheers,
      Margaux

  5. The hardest thing for me when writing is keeping it simple, When I am faced with a choice between fancy and simple I have to ask myself this question, Is it important for my reader to understand exactly what I am saying? If my answer is yes, I have to make it as simple as possible.

  6. That’s hilarious. I’ve always considered writing as acting on page in that I try to mold the way a character speaks to the mentality that they would have. It’s makes it more interesting at times to personify someone through their lingo instead of just trying to come across as a writer as witty instead of as real

  7. It is very funny indeed 😀 this could come from a very angry English professor 🙂

    Thanks for the tip! I think dialog alone could make or break a novel.

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