My last bit of Occasional Whimsy was entirely dialogue based in its first draft and I prefered it that way. Only after it was workshopped by a few mates did I decide to take their advice and add in brief descriptions during the breaks in conversation. Sometimes it’s easy to tell I started out in Journalism, working on feature writing and interviews, rather than creative prose.
I’ve always been drawn towards dialogue over narrative, and this reflects in my reading habits as well. I’ll pick a genre novel over a literary work any day. Although I have a great love and respect for the classics, I tend to skip over the long lush paragraphs describing the Pemberley Estate or Watson’s detailed recollections of Homles’ pipe.
I have a very active and vivid imagination and reading allows me to both focus and give it some exercise. It doesn’t really like being told what to do and so I tend to find myself skipping over the gorgeously articulated descriptions in books and going straight to the action and dialogue instead.
As a writer, I know how much work authors put into creating a beautifully vivid world and then even more into communicating it effectively. I’m never ungrateful for the direction and gentle guidance through a mysterious new world when I read, but after a while I kind of want to play around too. Your sandbox is amazing and has me hooked and I’ll follow the story wherever it leads, but don’t make me sift through four pages about the main character’s living room to get there.
My writing style has been described as ‘sparse’ more than once, and I know some authors would consider this a bad thing. But for me, it’s a compliment. I love the idea of people reading my work and imagining it differently to how I do. But I know this isn’t always the case, and a good balance between description, action and dialogue is the crux of a great novel.
But is it a turnoff for readers if they’re presented with two pages of dialogue over two pages of description? How tilted is the scale in your work?