Rob Benvie Talks with Open Book Ontario about Writing Dialogue

For this month's instalment of Fiction Craft, Open Book Ontario's Shaun Smith asks eleven writers, including Rob Benvie, how they go about capturing voice through dialogue. Benvie discusses the difficulties of balancing realism with humour, and he acknowledges his unavoidable debt to Quentin Tarantino and David Mamet.

Benvie's latest novel, Maintenance, is a fall 2011 Coach House book:

'I disagree that grittiness or "authenticity" is the goal of a writer; I’m more a fan of "enjoyability." So in that light, writing dialogue, and deciding how it works in fiction, is especially a toughie. Do we write as we actually speak, or do we write as we wish our characters – the personified constructs of our imagination and the buoys of the story we cast to sea – would speak? In the two books I’ve written, I’m pretty guilty of chucking in a lot of "mm"s and "hm"s and gratuitous implied pauses. Maybe that’s attempted realism, probably under the influence of film more than literature. I’m a child of the nineties, so the spectre of Tarantino and Mamet et al. looms large. So: you balance what’s realistic with what’s funny/poignant/whatever.'

To read the full article, click here.

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