Last night, Matthew Simmons read at Pilot Books, and he was his usual charming self. He read a portion of his first book, A Jello Horse, and he read a portion of what could become his next book, about a boy who was raised by wolves after a horrific plane crash, with just a collection of early hip hop cassette tapes to keep him company. The climax of the scene involved the wolf-boy reciting the chorus from this Biz Markie goodness:
After the reading, Simmons gave a hell of a talk about writing dialogue in fiction. Today, he has reposted the lecture at HTMLGiant, and you should read it.
So, Hemingway wrote a book called The Old Man and the Sea. And in The Old Man and the Sea, an old man goes out to sea. And he fishes. And he hooks himself a big, big fish. And the, for quite a lot of the rest of the book, the man and the fish pull at one another. For pages and pages they pull at one another. He—the old man—pulls at the fish. And it—the fish in the sea—pulls at the old man. They pull and pull and they fight and fight.
This is dialogue. This is how to approach dialogue.
It's a smart essay built on a clever construction that illustrates one of the hardest things for young writers to write. You should go read it even if you love fiction and you don't write.