Thursday, October 4, 2012

Action and Dialogue

The Muse smacked me in the back of the head on her way by.  It hurt.  A lot.

"You can't just go for a novel that's straight dialogue or straight action," she scolded.  "You have to have a good mix of both if you want people to get into your story."

I looked up from my desk and prepared a witty retort, but she was already gone.  The door to my office slammed behind her as she left, and I know she wanted me to give chase.  I hated when she did things like that.

Getting up, I strode to the door and yanked it open.  "Get back here, you little bitch.  You still owe me another 500 words before I can turn in for the night."

"You can look, but you'll never find me."  Her soft voice carried through the house, and I knew it wouldn't be easy to figure out where she was hiding, but that didn't mean I could give up.

I crept down the stairs and into the darkened kitchen.  The light by the stove was on, so I wasn't completely blind.  Still, the paltry shadows cast by the light didn't help me much.  I looked under the table and peered between the cook books, but there wasn't a trace of her.

"Come on out," I said.  "I'm tired, and this isn't funny any longer."

But there was nothing.  She was putting up a good fight tonight, and I needed to focus if I wanted to not only find her, but get her to cooperate as well.

There were flashlights in the silverware drawer, so I grabbed one that was pink and a little stubby - it belonged to my wife - and shined the light into the pantry.  I moved a couple of boxes of rice, as well as a can of soup that was a keepsake from college, but she didn't leap out.

"This is ridiculous," I mumbled.

"You're just not trying hard enough," she called out.

My head instantly swiveled towards the TV room and the leather recliner in the corner.  She might've made good use of the acoustics, but I was close enough now to know where she was.  I walked towards the chair heel to toe so as not to make a lot of noise.  If I scared her off, who knew how long it'd take me to find her again.

I jumped on the chair and looked over the top.  "Aha!"

She was curled up in a ball on the floor, but as soon as she saw me, she grinned.  The Muse stood and dusted herself off.

"That was fun," she said, "but don't think this ends the evening's entertainment.  You still haven't caught me."

She tried to make a break for the stairs, but I'd anticipated that.  With speed belying my age, I leapt from the chair and tackled her, wrestling the snooty woman to the ground and pinning down her arms.

"You are going to help me tonight.  I'm 500 words short of my goal, and if you don't give them to me, I can't go to sleep."

"Aw, poor baby cannot figure his story out," she said in a mock whiny voice.  She puffed out her lips for emphasis.  "Maybe this will help you go to sleep."

And she head butted me.

It took a second for the pain to register, and another second for me to realize that she was off and running again.  For a mythical creature that's supposed to as old as time itself, she was surprisingly nimble.

Once I shook out the cobwebs, I got to my feet and took off after her again, clomping up the stairs and headed for my office before she could lock me out.  That had happened once before and I ended up sleeping on the couch and trying to explain to Sherry the next morning why I'd failed to come to bed.  My sordid stories of trying to chase down a half naked Greek goddess didn't go over too well.

But this time she didn't lock the door.  I burst through it to find her perched on my desk.  She lazily pushed down one of the straps on her shoulder.

"Wouldn't you rather think of something else besides that stupid story?" she asked with a wink.

"Not really," I replied.  "I'm tired, and I just want to pump out the rest of this chapter so I can stop worrying about it.  Now, how does the vampire get into the compound?"

"We may never know," she said.

That did it.  I raced over to her and put her in the hardest headlock I could.  "Dammit, just give it up!  Does he leap over the railing, or was he in the car with the main character the whole time?"

When she didn't speak, I tightened my grip, but she flipped me over and I found myself falling over the desk and onto the floor.  However, I still had her by the throat, and I wasn't about to let go.

"Fine," she breathed.  "He used the trees by the southeast corner and jumped over.  He also spotted the main character before the van left, so he'll be following him onto the second floor balcony."

I released my grip and looked at her.  Panting, I said, "Now, was that so hard?"

For her part, the Muse didn't look phased at all.  In fact, she even wore a bemused smile.  She hopped up on my desk and crossed her legs.

"The chase is part of the fun," she said.  "If I just told you what to do without much action behind it, you wouldn't appreciate me as much."

I pushed her out of the way and sat at my laptop again to churn out the last part of the chapter.  She looked over my shoulder and whispered a few words of encouragement into my ear.  It may have felt good, but there were times I wish I'd simply bought a dog instead.


  1. Great post enlisting both action and dialogue in a fun scene of true writing.