Thursday, 21 February 2013

Rudy shot two families and a goat in Iraq, and he wasn't even there for the war

Ugly inking is ugly.  What can you do?

I have been playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas again.  If you don't know it, it is a videogame set in a fictionalised American state that is a portmanteau of California and Nevada and the game is one amazing bit of design even today, mere months away from being two generations of console technology removed from its release and I am still finding new things to see in it.  It was succeeded by Grand Theft Auto 4, a game I have yet to sit down and finish because it is pretty unambitious and banal in comparison, stripping away all the things that the series had logically progressed towards in order to create "realism", which I find hilarious because "realism" is a band aid no game outside pc flight simulators really wants to go picking at.
I suppose I have been thinking about verisimilitude in various ways, but this is the one that grabs me the most if I think of where the pursuit of realism gets in the way of things, and having to sit down and write an all-ages story that is theoretically set in "reality" without getting bogged down in the details, I really hate that I can't just throw exposition at the page and call it dialogue even though it's a necessary evil because it's just the kind of thing that takes me out of a story and I work from the assumption that the reader is at least as smart as I am and if I wouldn't buy it then they probably won't either.

And it is blimming crippling me, here - how do writers at the CW just churn this shit out like they don't give a fuck?  They're amazing people.  They have to be.
Anyway, dialogue is hard, is what I am saying.


  1. When you think about it a lot of dialogue is exposition, it's just a matter of disguising it. And any film (a Bond film for example) that has a mission briefing scene - boom! Big lump of exposition right there that's not even tried to disguise itself. Besides, we use exposition in real life more often than we think. For example when you're in the pub and someone's telling you an anecdote involving people you don't know, they'll probably give you a bit of background. "So me and my cousin - he'd just been kicked out of the army for striking an officer - were off to the boozer when we saw Mike. Now, I owed Mike two hundred quid that I'd lost on a horse, and he's the kind of loan shark who'd smash your legs to bits for the price of breakfast, so..." and so on. That bit of dialogue contains exposition about the cousin and Mike and the gambling habits of the narrator, yet if a character said it in a film you'd probably not notice if it's delivered in the right natural conversational tone. Plus it's over quickly.
    Just my opinion of course, but I thought I'd mention it as dialogue is my favourite part of writing.

  2. Oh hey, I love dialogue, too, Steve, it's the playpen of making comics where all the fun stuff happens, where you construct characters and quirks and jokes - it's the bit where dialogue has to build a bridge that makes me struggle. When there's a change of tone to a conversation or the atmosphere of a scene or a plot element has to be introduced organically, that's where madness beckons.