Books, news, & views from Karen Traviss

Great dialogue surrounds us


I have never lifted a character from the real world*, but I must say that some one-liners I've heard in the course of the day have tempted me to whip out my notebook. There's some fabulous dialogue going begging out there.

I heard a cracking line yesterday in my local hardware shop, a fascinating emporium full of hazardous substances, sharp objects, and power tools. I was queueing at the cash desk; further up the queue, a brat launched into a full-on shrieking tantrum, screaming his head off because his mum had told him to put something back. "I don't want to put it back! WAAAAAAAAAAAHHHH!"

This was conducted at an eardrum-rending volume, and showed signs of going on for some time. Other customers were starting to mutter and shuffle from foot to foot. Mum, all middle class and reasonable, was trying to deal with the meltdown by explaining to her little precious that it was just too bad and he had to do as he was told. Which, of course, he didn't.

Then the rather pissed-off cashier, a big burly bloke, looked at the kid and said: "This is a man's shop. We don't have any crying in here."

It didn't completely silence the little sod, but it did reduce the volume. Now I'm just waiting for the right scene to write that line in. Pure class.

(*For the writers-in-training among you, filing the serial numbers off real people is, as far as I'm concerned, bad writing. See here for my rationale.)