3

I have a scene in which two characters are introduced to the reader. They met once before at a party, prior to the start of the story. In the following excerpt, I add a short explanation of that first meeting for the reader's sake. Is it appropriate to inject background in the dialog? Is there a better way to handle it?

“Oh yes. Jake Hayden. The guy who thinks chocolate milk is a health drink.” Jake’s mouth froze in place. His gaze shifted down and off to the side. Last time they met, he was drinking a chocolate protein beverage, while Sara was drinking ginger-kale juice. He had made playful remarks about her plant juice then. Jake’s lips formed a tight smile. Eyes still lowered, he muttered “Yeah, that was me.”

2 Answers 2

3

That works fine. It's not a huge description and it fits in well with the dialogue.

I would change the "was" to "had been". "Last time they met, he had been drinking a chocolate protein beverage, while Sara had been drinking ginger-kale juice." Or you could shorten it to "he'd been drinking..." if you want. The use of "was" just sounds weird to me and doesn't really fit.

0
1

Its a teensy bit awkward to me, possibly because I have an extreme aversion to past perfect ('He had made...')

The gag about the milk is a good one, but the exchange would probably be better if the ginger-kale juice were introduced in a comeback (either witty or awkward) rather than reaching into the past for an explanation.

For example...

“Oh yes. Jake Hayden. The guy who thinks chocolate milk is a health drink.”

Jake’s mouth froze in place. Last time they met, he was drinking a chocolate protein beverage. "So says the girl," he said, "last seen trying to get drunk on ginger-kale juice?"

Apologies for changing the nature of the exchange (and the party) but hopefully you can see it's a bit clearer and more immediate. You can probably think of a more appropriate response for Jake.

2
  • Nice thought. Thank you for sharing.
    – Eric J.
    Feb 19, 2016 at 23:18
  • This is a great idea for working the ginger-kale juice bit into the story, making it flow more naturally.
    – Abs
    Feb 20, 2016 at 3:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.