One of the biggest challenges in writing for me so far has been creating dialogue that organically speaks to me from individual characters. The Silent Partner has a number of them due to the story and its structure, and I realized through development that I was too ambitious for my own good. Especially for a debut novel. Why go for a simple 3-act or boy-meets-girl/loses-girl/gets-girl-back structure when I can create a multi-layered story-world with parallels and conflict, raising the stakes for all until surprising showdowns at the conclusion? That would be just . . . ridiculous! Now working on the manuscript diligently for four years . . . What was I thinking?
My goal was to create unique voices that didn’t compromise the “voice” of the narrative, but added to it. The characters had to be unpretentiously unique, not unique for unique’s sake. (Everyone having different accents or being from different parts of the world, for “being different” sake, would be downright lame.) I learned from other writers––including unpublished ones––on tactics that worked for them, modifying them for what worked. That is, through revision.
I found myself writing down things I heard all day long. Thoughts would come to me daily that I would jot down on my memo on my iPhone. The notes would often be cryptic and incomprehensible later, especially after a long day at the office. (I have an incredible day job that can tax the brain.) Even at work, I’d hear colorful language or something amusing I hadn’t heard before and start taking notes. (My boss, at first, thought my note-taking during meetings was all work related. Though much of it was, I couldn’t help documenting genius. He eventually caught on.)
The most fun I’ve had with each individual character’s sketch was finding out what motivated them. What changed them, and how they saw the world. From where they each stand, the world means something different. Of course, while taking notes wherever I was (including at the bar at Cucina Urbana, a great little place here in San Diego), I had to make sure the characters were not only dynamic, but completely fictional.
Because, any resemblance is entirely coincidental.