Finding a voice in your dialogue

gilmore-girlsOnce upon a time, there was a show I shouldn’t have cared about.  At all.  It had no space stuff, no monsters, none of the kinds of things that normally drew me to a tv show.  It was about a mother and her daughter living in a small town full of quirky people.  Not exactly my cup of tea.  Yet something about it made me watch.  And watch.  And watch.

I’m talking about The Gilmore Girls.

You read that right.

I had the opportunity to watch a few episodes of the show on Netflix this weekend. Haven’t seen it in years.  And I suddenly remembered what it was about the show that made me a fan; the dialogue.  The snappy, quick-fire dialogue.  It goes by so fast, yet there is so much substance and humor jammed in to every exchange, every scene and sentence.

I want to write that.  Hell, I try to write that all the time.  I tell people in my critique group(s) to write like that, to write dialogue the way people talk.  To not be afraid of adding humor to any scene.  And essentially to find your voice in dialogue, though I don’t think I’ve ever put it quite in those terms before.

Here’s a sample of what I’m talking about:

Rory: I’m going to a serious school now, I need serious paper.

Lorelai: Paper’s paper.

Rory: Not at Chilton.

Lorelai: Alright, fine. Here is your serious paper.

Rory: Thank you.

Lorelai: Ooh and here are your somber highlighters, your maudlin pencils, your manic-depressive pens.

Rory: Mom.

Lorelai: Now these erasers are on lithium so they may seem cheerful but we actually caught them trying to shove themselves in the pencil sharpener earlier.

Rory: I’m going home now.

Lorelai: No, wait! We’re going to stage an intervention with the neon post-its and make them give up their wacky crazy ways.

See what I mean?  No?  How about this?

Lorelai: What happened? The reception on the phone sucked. All I heard was “Rory” and “Chilton” and “Get down here.” Whose butt do I have to kick?

Rory: We didn’t go to breakfast.

Lorelai: What are you talking about?

Rory: We came here. They broke into the headmaster’s office as the big initiation.

Lorelai: Ugh, those stupid girls.

Rory: Uh huh. Part of the initiation was ringing a bell. So, that’s what I was doing when security showed up and they called you.

Lorelai: That’s what you got busted for? That’s it? Bell-ringing?

Rory: Yes.

Lorelai: Were you at least smoking a Cuban cigar while you were doing it?

Rory: Mom.

Lorelai: No, I mean, bad girl, how many times have I told you not to ring bells?

Rory: Let’s go.

Lorelai: They can dent, or scratch, and they make dogs go crazy. Who do you think you are, the Hunchback of Notre Dame? Are you French? Circular? I don’t think so.

Rory: I’m walking to the car now.

Lorelai: Was it a big bell at least?

Reading it doesn’t do it justice.  So my advice is that you go watch the show on Netflix. Take notes.  Let it help you – if you need it – with your own writing and dialogue.

Plus, it’s a damned fine show and will entertain.


  • Paul Weimer Posted November 3, 2014 11:37 am

    Yup, the Rory and Lorelai relationship is the best

  • deanmcole Posted December 9, 2014 6:58 am

    Great, now I have another Netflix binge weekend to schedule…

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