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This is my first time writing a novel. In my novel, there is a part of the married life of my protagonist who is a woman. I don't have any experience of married life so I have taken inspiration from a movie. There is pages and pages of dialogue between the two for an e.g. this one...

What time is it?” I asked.

“Half past Ten”

“I am glad we went to see the movie”

“Yeah, after a long time, something realistically sensible”

“Aakash, do you believe two people can spend a lifetime together?”

“It’s a ridiculous convention passed down from god knows where.”

“A five-year contract would be ideal. Or an agreement subject to renewal.”

“Would that be applied to us too?

“No”

“Why not?”

“We are the exception that proves the rule.”

“So you think we will stay together?”

“That sounds like a strange question”

“Doesn’t it bother you to never get to sleep with anyone else?”

“No. Does it bother you?”

“Sometimes, yeah”

“I’ll be damned”

“On a purely speculative basis”

“I wonder whether something's wrong with me”

“I don’t have fantasies like that. I am content”

“Well so am I”

“Oh Now I get”

“I know why Zhenya and Boris in the movie go through hell”

“They do not speak the same language, I mean in terms of expressing themselves like expressing their thoughts and feelings, I think he did not ever understand what she meant when she said what she said, that really is a couple of story moving for separation. They should translate everything into a common language.”

“Ahhh I think its simpler than that”

“You and I we understand each other, we speak the same language, that’s what makes us click”

How should I convert it into a paragraph? Is there any trick?

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I'm going to focus solely on the How to convert dialogue in to paragraph? question.

There isn't one technique but several that should be used together. Here's four that seem to be the most important IMHO.

  • Mention actions in between dialogues. Maybe Anna flopped down onto the coach, thus showing she was tired. Maybe John dropped his phone with a low curse as he took it out of the jeans pocket. No need to actually report the curse used.

  • Mention expressions that highlight emotions and feelings. Maybe Anna scratched her nose as she mentioned a friend's opinion she disagrees with. Maybe John frowned at a joke he didn't think funny at all.

  • Choose one POV (to avoid head hopping) and mention thoughts that are never expressed out lout. Maybe Anne said the dessert was terrible but John thought it wasn't that bad. He really doesn't understand her fixation with very sweet desserts. 'Yeah, it wasn't very sweet, I suppose,' he ended up saying.

  • If the dialogue is getting long, use indirect speech (mixing it up with free indirect).

"Not very sweet? It was bitter and sour and... God, it wasn't even a dessert at all!"

He once more admitted it could have used some sugar, then ostensibly looked at his phone.

"I hope I didn't crack it when I dropped it."

"Let me see..."

She looked at it from every angle before handing it back with a careless 'it's fine'. But at least she'd forgotten the wretched dessert.


Answer to comments

Writing insn't a mathematical endeavour. While you can analyse a text and come up with statistics, you wouldn't want to do the opposite (start with statistics and then write). What you're after when you write is the right feel. For the techniques above, you want to strike a balance. Play it by ear until it feels like if flows naturally.

Here's another example:

The romantic film Ann had chosen had been one of the most stupid things I had ever seen, but she'd loved it so I'd said it had been nice. As we entered the house, Ann flopped onto the sofa with a deep sigh.

"Are you feeling tired?"

She yawned a yes and I sat next to her. Although I had hated the movie, there was something that had stuck in my mind.

"You really liked that movie, didn't you?" I waited for her to nod and tried to sound casual. "Do you think all guys are as clueless with kids?"

Because the film's supposed comedy had all been about how terrible the husband was taking care of his newborn baby, and he'd heard Ann say 'that's so true' at a few moments.

"Not every guy, but let's face it: it's women who have babies. It just comes natural to us, while men are naturally geared to... I don't know. Bring in the meat, I guess!"

Did she really think that? Did it mean that, when it was time for us to have children, she wouldn't consider the possibility of me staying home with them in the first years?

"I've always been good with kids," I said quietly. "I used to babysit for my neighbours when I was younger, you know?"

In this longer example, the reader is privy to John's thoughts but not Anne's.

  • Dear Sara, thank you so much for the answer, it explains to me a lot. In the third point, you said, 'Choose one POV (to avoid head hopping) and mention thoughts that are never expressed out loud.' I see that you have given an example but I am not able to link it to the point and understand it. Can I request to elaborate it with easy example? I am writing the novel in the first person singular, can you please provide an example in that mode. – WritingNewbie Jun 8 at 6:18
  • Dear Sara, I studied the example you have provided. Can I ask, what should be the percentage of dialogue and paragraph narration as you have explained? In your example, there is a 1 to 1 percentage. Or that is not a very important thing? – WritingNewbie Jun 8 at 6:24
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First of all, what do you mean by "taking inspiration from a movie"? If you mean copying the dialogue from a movie line for line, you're not allowed to do that. That's plagiarism.

I would also question your statement regarding "having no experience with married life". You might not be married yourself, but what about your parents? Your parents' friends? Your own friends? Acquaintances? Surely you must know somebody who is married? It is also perfectly fine to take inspiration from stories you encounter, whether in literature or film, provided what you take is inspiration, rather than verbatim quotes. Inspiration means asking yourself what would a character who is in some way similar to the one you've seen, do in a situation you've created.

But if your question is "I have written what both people say, but the words aren't really enough for it to work", the answer isn't too complicated. The words aren't the only thing happening in the scene. There's how the words are said - angrily, ironically, lovingly? There's what the characters are doing while they're talking - looking at each other, fidgeting, eating breakfast? What else is going on - chirping birds, something on TV, arguing neighbours? You've also got to give sufficient indication to who says what, since your readers can't "see" the scene.

You add those elements to the extent that they enhance the scene, but do not drown it. (For that, of course, you need to have a very clear understanding of what the scene is supposed to do.) Then you've got yourself a passable dialogue scene.

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    Rather than write my own answer; I'll say there is also what characters are thinking, and remembering, and feeling, and if you have one POV character, what she is thinking or inferring about what the other character(s) are saying. Aren't these characters ever amused by the responses of the other? Or Confused? Do they misinterpret responses, as we all do at times? When one says, "Ahhh!" what does the inspiration feel like? There is excitement in figuring something out. Your block of dialogue between two talking heads should be 3 or 4 times longer than it is. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Jun 7 at 15:51
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    @cool_bodhi if you take the dialogue verbatim from a movie, no matter how you play around with it, it's still going to be plagiarism. You can't use that, period. – Galastel supports GoFundMonica Jun 8 at 7:53
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    @cool_bodhi POV means Point of View. In most stories (written and video) each scene is seen as if 'following" just one character, we see what they see. That is the POV character for the scene. Often whole chapters or whole books are 'seen' through the same character: In Die Hard, John McClane (Bruce Willis) is both the MC (Main Character) and almost exclusively the POV character, about 95% of the time it is about McClane and how he sees and acts. Harry Potter is the same; there are very few scenes without Harry, and nearly all of the story is filtered through his experience and feelings. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Jun 8 at 10:14
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    @cool_bodhi In a film you see people reacting to what others say or do. Mute the sound and just watch the action people take, the expressions on their face, the way they move their hands, head, shoulders, body. A deaf person can tell the difference between people joking, arguing, loving each other, hating each other. Between friends and acquaintances. They can read the emotions without the audiotrack. Your writing should describe the same kinds of visible actions and expressions that clue in the deaf, to help readers visualize the scene. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Jun 8 at 10:27
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    @cool_bodhi In a film, 95% of the impact of a conversation is in the visual component, the actors and the setting, and the emotional content of the music and voice tone and volume, 100% of that is missing from your transcript. I often say the job of the writer is to guide the imagination of the reader, to provide all those images, sound and emotion so their readers imagine a full scene. THAT is why I say the conversation you provide would have to be 3-4 times longer than it is, otherwise it is an under-imagined scene. No setting. No emotions. No expressions. No action. No voice tones. – Amadeus-Reinstate-Monica Jun 8 at 13:08

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