I don’t use a lot of dialogue in my writing and wanted to explore this technique. Here I am attempting to develop a character entirely through snippets of conversation with others. As a start point I have set it out as a script. I am playing with words and would be interested in any constructive criticism you may wish to leave in the comments.
An unexpected meeting
Stan: Hey Mary, good to see you!
Mary: Hello Stan, how are you? I didn’t realise you were in town.
Stan: Yeah, just for a couple of weeks. Flew in yesterday. What’s that you’re doing?
Mary: Oh just you know, sorting out this thing for work. I need to be getting back to the office.
(Stan looks over her shoulder)
Stan: Oh, you don’t want to be doing that. Now you know that I understand this stuff and that’s not a good call. You should try that other thing there. That would be much better for you.
Mary: Uh, okay Stan, thanks for taking an interest. I appreciate your help.
Stan: No worries! Look, I gotta go here but maybe catch you later?
Mary: Sure, that would be good.
Stan: Okay, and you do what I suggested yeah?
Mary: Uh, yeah, thanks Stan. I’ll see you later.
Stan: Hi Mary, I thought I might catch you here. Hey, I bet you’re glad you didn’t do that thing. Went a bit pear shaped overnight didn’t it? I told you it wasn’t a good deal didn’t I?
Mary: Um, you checked up on that did you? Actually Stan I did do it, but you know, it’s not a problem, these things happen.
Stan: But why did you do it after I told you it wasn’t a good idea? Now look where you’ve ended up!
Mary: It’s okay. Hey, you gave me good advice. You were right and I was wrong; no big deal.
Stan: I don’t understand why you did the thing when I told you not to.
Mary: Well you know, sometimes I make a bad call, it happens in my job. Would you like a coffee?
Stan: Sure, thanks. Is that Ollie over at the table?
Mary: Yeah that’s him, you go ahead, I’ll bring your coffee over.
Ollie: Hi Stan, good to see you. How are you?
Stan: Oh, I’m fine thanks. Did Mary tell you about the thing she did?
Ollie: Um, I don’t think so.
Stan: She’s probably embarrassed. I ran into her yesterday and I told her not to do it. I have no idea why she didn’t listen. We’ve known each other years and she knows I know about this stuff.
Ollie: Well, she seems okay to me. Perhaps it’s not such a big deal?
Mary: Hey guys, there you go. Americano and Cappuccino.
Stan: I was just talking to Ollie about the thing you did. Why didn’t you do as I suggested?
Mary: I guess I just went with what I thought was best, should have listened to you my friend.
Stan: Well of course you should! I don’t understand why you didn’t.
Ollie: How was the show last night Mary?
Mary: Oh it was great. Jenna was there with her new boyfriend…
Later that day
Stan: Hey Phil, I thought that was you, do you mind if I join you?
Phil: Well hello stranger! Yeah sure, sit down, when did you arrive in town?
Stan: Been here a few days now. Just trying to catch up with a few folk. I saw Mary, tried to help her out, but she wouldn’t listen. You’d think she’d know better. I don’t understand why she wouldn’t take my advice, and now she’s got a mess to clear up.
Phil: I was talking to Mary earlier, she seemed chipper enough.
Stan: Making the best of a bad job I guess. She admitted that she should have done as I said, tried to make light of it. Typical woman, refusing to listen to sense.
Phil: Bit sexist there mate. Mary’s got a good head on her. She’ll have had her reasons.
Stan: She did this thing when I advised against it! Not showing a great deal of sense there.
Phil: Oh well, you did your best. What are your plans for while you’re in town?
A couple of days later
Ollie: I wish you hadn’t invited Stan. I’ve run into him a few times now, he’s obviously at a bit of a loose end. Keeps going on about that thing you did and how he is so in the right. Makes me want to clock him.
Mary: Is he still going on about that? I couldn’t really not invite him, not when he’s here in town. Just don’t tell him any of your business or let him give you advice!
Phil: He’s arrived. (waves across room). Alright there Stan, are you enjoying being back in the big smoke?
Stan: Hi guys, yeah sure. Mary, I’ve been thinking about that mess you got yourself into. You know if you did this and then..
Mary: Stan, it’s not a mess. It’s no big deal. I made the wrong choice but that happens sometimes.
Stan: Yeah but you should have done as I advised. Now, if you did this..
Ollie: Stan we are not here to talk business. Look, let’s find a table and order.
Stan: Okay sure, but if you just let me talk to Mary about this I can help her sort it all out.
Phil: I think Mary is capable of sorting herself out Stan. Come on, let’s go eat.
Stan: Guys, I know about this stuff! Mary should have done as I said, shouldn’t you Mary?
Mary: Look, I made a bad call but I’ve moved on. It happens. Now, what would you like to drink?
Stan: You’re trying to gloss over this, to pretend it didn’t happen. I can understand you’re embarrassed but I’m trying to help, if you’d just listen for once in your life.
Mary: Okay Stan, one last time. You were right and I was wrong, I’ve admitted that. I’m not embarrassed, it’s no big deal and I’ve moved on. Ancient history. Now please, let’s just forget it and enjoy our evening.
Ollie: Here, here!
Stan: You just can’t accept that you made a mistake can you?
Phil: For crying out loud Stan, will you shut up about this?
Stan: Why am I the one who is being shouted at? I’m in the right!