This past week I was offered the opportunity to read a friend’s screenplay – and it’s good. Very good. The setting is good, the characters are interesting and fraught, and there’s a great theme in back of the action. But I loved the dialogue. The smartness that comes from the voices of what these people have to say, and how much they leave out of their conversations.
I also read a wonderful short novel, “An Uncommon Reader’, by Alan Bennett. I had never heard of this book (although I loved Alan Bennett’s work as a playwright and screenwriter). He has crafted a wonderful story with very little dialogue.
There’s a great review of the book in the New York Times:
“Queen Elizabeth is known for loving her horses and her corgis. She has sat, reportedly, for more than 120 portraits, conferred some 400,000 honors and awards, met with a long parade of prime ministers and attended countless garden parties and receptions. She has frequently been described as an exemplary monarch, dedicated and dutiful and decent. And just as frequently described as a forbidding mother, chilly and withholding and given to playing ostrich whenever it comes to emotions.”
The conversations from Queen Elizabeth are terse and wonderfully correct. It was a great read – and reminded me of the pleasures of reading Robertson Davies, another author who writes wonderful conversations in his novels.
It’s been a great week to discover two examples of dialogue. And it’s only Wednesday.