Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Making it Real

I was hopping around on the blogosphere last night and found a discussion on what makes dialogue real. Yeah, I don't know either, but it was suggested (by Nathan Bransford and Dominique's brother) that you have to make the character's speech better. I don't know if that means, make them smarter, take out the dangling particples, stop using like, even if the person uses it like 500 times in one sentence. I'm clueless. I've always written dialogue the way it would sound if someone were actually speaking (the way I speak).

So here is some dialogue gentle readers...tell me, what do you think? Is it real? Or better than real? Or trite and doesn't even come close to real? (I also tried to put spaces between paragraphs so it would be easier to read.)

More about Genna & Tony --

She hadn’t expected to see him, hadn’t wanted to see him, hadn’t thought about seeing him, but there he was, larger than life, sitting in her Uncle Sally’s diner. After ten freaking years, she finally decided to come home and who is the first person she sees? And why dear Lord, does she have to run into him without having a lick of make-up on her six-hundred mile, twelve-hour sweaty face? Him. Of all people! Antonio freaking Joseph Testa, the guy, the one, the bum who jilted her for that skinny, little witch Debbie Martino.

It might have been ten years ago but it still hurt like hell.

Genna stood to the side of the cash register waiting to ask a waitress for a cup of coffee. She couldn’t go behind the counter like she used to, and she didn’t know any of the girls on the floor so she looked around at the white-washed walls, noticing not one thing had changed in all the time she’d been gone. The same picture of Pope John Paul II still hung over the door to the kitchen. The flag of Italy still hung proudly under glass, displayed over the map of Salerno where the ancestors originated. She wondered if anyone even bothered to look at the decrepit bulletin board anymore, still by the front door with so many cards stuck to it, it was almost an eyesore. The only thing that had changed were the little café curtains at the windows, they were blue checkered now, instead of red.

That’s when she saw Tony, sitting in the far booth. He noticed her at the exact same moment. He stood up slowly, gaping, as if she was some kind of ghost. Genna looked right through him, as if he were the ghost. He sat back down. Thank God, that worked, Robby always said she could drop someone dead with that look; otherwise, Tony would have made his way over to her and she knew she did not want to spend any amount of time discussing her last decade with him. She did not even want to be in the same room with him.

“Rosa Linda Fortuna Genovase, is it really you?” Uncle Sally cried through the pass through window next to the coffee maker. He came bursting through the swinging door, arms extended for the hug she knew she couldn’t escape from. And frankly didn’t want to.

“Uncle Sally,” Genna hugged back, not expecting the tears that picked at the corners of her eyes.

Salvatore “Sally” Genovase, her father’s brother, pushed her away from his huge body, although not letting go of her hands. “Your Aunt Fortuna is gonna’ have you on a spit you know, you shoulda’ called.” He hugged her again and she felt her back crack in two places.

“I know Uncle Sally, I know, but it was kind of a spur of the moment thing, you know. I had some time coming to me from the restaurant so I decided to come home.” She held his hand as she sank onto the last stool at the counter in front of the cash register.

He took the stool next in line and asked in a very low voice, “You okay? You don’t owe nobody nothing,’ do ya’?” He looked around his small café and wondered if anyone had heard him.

Genna laughed, “No Uncle Sally, I don’t owe anyone, anything.” Ingrained throughout her childhood was the Genovase family creed: Mind Your Business, Mind Your Manners, Mind Your Family and Mind Your Money.

“You sure?” Salvatore would always think of his brother’s daughter as his own, if she needed anything, he would move heaven and earth to give it to her.

“Uncle Sally, I’m sure, now stop,” she placed a loving hand on his big arm, “I told you; I just wanted to come home. Now, what’s going on here?” She laughed and looked at the white dry erase board hanging over the coffee machine. “Same old Tuesday specials I see, when are you going to change this menu?” A waitress had finally come by and Genna asked for a cup of coffee.

“Ha, just like a woman, not even here for two minutes and already giving me grief.” Salvatore laughed, patting her face with his big hand.

“I’m not giving you grief Uncle Sally, I’m just not crazy about stuffed eggplant,” Genna giggled and poured a heaping teaspoon of sugar into her mug of coffee. She stirred and reached for the cream when she heard his voice behind her.

“Hello Genna.”

She didn’t want to turn around, she didn’t want to see him up close, and she didn’t want to talk to him. What she wanted was to melt under the floor, or better yet, have him melt under the floor so she could walk all over him the way he had done to her.

“Hello Tony,” she mumbled over her shoulder. She was only being half-impolite. At least she said hello.

“How’s it goin’? Back in town?” He stood, waiting for the waitress to pay his tab.

Duh? She was sitting right there in front of his face, where did he think she was, China? “Yeah,” she answered curtly. Now go away.

“Well, maybe we can catch up later.” He said as Heidi, the waitress who’d poured her coffee, cashed him out.

“Maybe,” Genna snorted. Not in this lifetime. Never again.

She turned her attention back to Uncle Sally who wore a pensive expression as he watched Tony go out the door.

“I know he’s not number one on your hit parade Genna, but you might want to cut him some slack. He’s had it rough these last couple years and he’s not such a bad guy once you get to know him.”

This from the man who wanted to have Tony’s kneecaps broken when he found out he’d dumped Genna for Darling Debbie.

“Listen Uncle Sally, I didn’t come here to see Tony, I came here to see you and Aunt Fortuna. Where is she by the way?” Her aunt had always been a fixture at the restaurant from nine to three during the week while her kids were in school, on Saturdays for the lunch rush and on Sundays for breakfast. That schedule had not changed even though her children had graduated a long time ago.

“She had to baby-sit the twins. Angie’s got a doctor’s appointment.” Salvatore made the sign of the cross.

“What’s the matter with Angie?” Genna asked, noting her uncle’s mannerism. She and Angie had never been close growing up although they were the same age and lived in the same house; still, she was her cousin.

Salvatore leaned in close, “Girly problems.”

Genna knew that could mean a thousand different things, nine-hundred and ninety-nine of them not being serious. She put her hand on Uncle Sally’s none-the-less for support.

“I’ll ask Aunt when I see her. Where’s Robby, down at the shop?” Genna asked about Angie’s brother Roberto. They had been the close ones, always in each other’s business, always in each other’s hair.

“I would imagine,” Salvatore glanced up at the big clock over the pass through to the kitchen, “It’s only ten, you gonna’ go by there now?” He rose from his stool without waiting for her answer and moved behind the long counter.

“Yeah, I figure he’ll be mad because I didn’t stop to see him first but…” Genna laughed and finished her coffee.

“But you love your Uncle more, right?” Salvatore poured two large to-go cups of coffee, added sugar, milk and ice and put them in a bag. He also made a container of doughnuts and pastry and placed both down in front of Genna.

“Here, give him these, maybe he won’t be so mad, eh?”

Genna stood and hugged her Uncle, kissed him on both cheeks and picked up the bags.

“I’m assuming you’ll be home for dinner,” Salvatore said to her retreating back.

“As if I wouldn’t,” she turned around to face him, her hand on the door handle, “You think I’d want Aunt Fortuna hunting me down? What time?”

“Seven I’d imagine. Soon as she finds out you’re home she’s gonna’ be cooking like it’s Christmas. Remember to bring your appetite.” He waved her off.


Davin Malasarn said...

I think that dialog is working quite well! To me, it fits into the "better than life" category. At least I know I'm not quite that sharp in real time!

Piedmont Writer said...

Thanks Davin, that means a lot.

I love writing dialogue better than anything else. It's easy for me to have a two-, sometimes three-sided conversation in my head.
My only problem is when I have them out loud in the grocery story. LOL.

Simon C. Larter said...

Dialogue is a beautiful thing. It really flies off the page and makes reading go so much faster. I think you did a good job of it here, good lady. :)

Piedmont Writer said...

Thank you Simon, and I must say I'm still trying to wrap my mind around that "No Kiss."

Lady Glamis said...

Cool! So is the scene before the other one you posted a little bit ago?

I keep thinking of Tony looking like a young Tony Danza. Hehehe. I have Italian characters in my first novel, The Breakaway. Lots of fun!

So far I think your dialogue is superb! You're doing a great job. And this scene flows nicely. Careful or you're going to make me want to read the whole book!

Piedmont Writer said...

Aww, c'mon Glam, you make me blush. And you better be careful or I'll steal you away from your 'literary' pursuits to read more romance. heheheheh

Yes, this is the scene before the other one.

And Tony is based on a real life ex-boyfriend from 1000 years ago who looks like the actor Vincent D'onofrio from Law & Order Criminal Intent. Sort of.

Lady Glamis said...

You don't think there was enough romance to drown out any literary elements in Monarch? I'm thinking there might have been, lol.

Piedmont Writer said...

Not enough of the gushy, breast-heaving, silk & satin pushing, heart plapitating, 'oh-my- goodness, what-must-he-think-of-me' kind like I write. Your 'romance' was much more reserved and adult. I write romance that everyone wants to believe in but will never find. You write believable adult romance. and heart-stopping kisses like nobody's business.

Piedmont Writer said...

You write literary romance.
Just like you write men's fiction.

There, you have just found another genre to write in. Literary romance. I like that.

Lady Glamis said...

Literary Romance...Mmmm,I like that.