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I'm sure you don't remember me. Asked quiet a few questions a year ago. Never came back for round 2. Was working on your advices. Writing.

I'm nearing the climax of my novel. There's a scene. Sort of a revelation where a character and the MC talk and the backstory is given to the reader about how the MC had assumed things wrong. Now, the scene is set in a chamber where the two guys are chained to the walls. There are just chunks of dialogues. No movement, no body language, just a scene filled with dialogues.

Usually, in a scene where I want to dump critical information, or when the MC is backed into the corner, I go about it like this-

  • Character says his dialogue
  • Short shock.
  • MC begins analysing in his head.
  • MC says his dialogue.
  • Character says his dialogue (I'm writing in first person).

And this goes about in a loop until I reach where I want to reach.

Now, in this particular scene, I don't want to show the short shock or the analyzing or the non verbal reaction of the MC at all. Not even minimum. I want it 0. I have this weird inclination to make the conversation give the shock to the MC and the readers without me explicitly showing it or even mentioning a much needed monologue. I want to give them just chunks of dialogues. Nothing else.

(This scene marks the end of the second act with the goals changed and the stakes increased. So, I think the conversation will be compelling enough and the readers will just focus on the dialogues and not the environment or any actions. But again, that's what I think).

Now, the question is, will it weird things out? Should I do it? That is, should I just make a scene of pure chunks of dialogues if they're compelling enough? What do you think? Please, help me out here.

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There's no reason you can't do this, as long as it's the reader understands the information you're giving them. The clearer way to do something is nearly always preferred.

Writers have formatted scenes as screenplays within a novel, but it's a rare, experimental device. It also evokes a cinematic feel, which may not be what you want.

Long passages of dialog without any descriptive text will tend to run into one problem: It becomes hard to follow who's saying what. You can only incorporate so many instances of characters naming other characters in their speech before it becomes artificial. It's hard to replace "she said" with "So, Sue, let me tell you a thing..." more than once.

I'd suggest you minimize descriptive text and dialog tags, but not remove them entirely. That'll keep the scene very stark and dialog-focused but make it easy to follow.

  • So if I use just two characters, with the dialogue tags, with no third character coming in between, it won't be hard enough for the readers to follow right? – Amin Mohamed Ajani Sep 22 '14 at 9:09
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    Depends on the dialog and your specific situation, but probably. – Neil Fein Sep 22 '14 at 9:20

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