|Stories - Part Five: Relationships and Communication
Our level of communication with others depends on how well we know people, what the context of the situation is, and what our intent is in talking to them. We may say to a child "don't leave your roller skates on the stairs because someone is going to have an accident." We say to an adult "have you turned the gas off?" without stating the reason why. The child needs an explanation, while the adult does not. In that situation the communication is clear to all. But what of situations where people aren't saying what they really want to say?
A boy says to a girl "are you going out this Saturday?" and means, "will you be free this Saturday if I were to ask you out?" She can say, "No, I'm not going anywhere on Saturday" but to do so suggests she is unpopular, so she says something like "Oh yes, I've got two or three invites, but I haven't made my mind up yet." If he says straight out "Will you come out with me on Saturday" and she turns him down, he will be offended. If she says, "Well, I am going out, but if you want to make an offer I'd be happy to consider it", she may feel she is devaluing herself. This type of verbal interplay is common where we have to guess what the other wants.
The verbal interplay between people communicates the level of 'friendliness' between them. We assume that everything Winnie-the-Pooh says is straightforward, while anything James Bond says will not be. Dialogue might be considered like a game of tennis. In a friendly game we hit the ball so that the other can return it easily. We leave openings for the other to reply. When the conversation dries up we initiate a new subject for the other to join in.
There are many problems in communicating ideas to others. First we don't always know what we want. Secondly we may know what we want, but don't know how to express it. Thirdly, we may know what we want and how to express it, but may be afraid to in case it upsets the other person, or because they may not respond. Arguments can result in misunderstandings. Or people may prefer not to talk to someone who is more or less articulate than them. We tend to find friends who have the same level of communication abilities as ourselves as this allows us to speak without constrictions on what we say.
Dialogue is complementary to action. When nothing is happening then dialogue is used to set the next stage up. To this extent, dialogue in films is rarely like real dialogue. Film dialogue is meant to convey to the audience what is happening rather than reflect how people actually talk. The rhythm of the story is set by how quickly each event follows the next. Dialogue enables you to control the speed of events. By quickening the pace of events the story moves up to a climax. Most stories tend to get faster as the viewer becomes familiar with the background and starts to anticipate the next stage.
We also communicate on other levels. If Winnie-the-Pooh looks at someone's cake and says "That looks nice" while rubbing his tummy, we assume he wants to be given some. On the other hand, if James Bond points his gun at someone's head and says, "I'm sure that we understand each other", we assume that they don't understand each other.
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