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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Dialogue—info dump

“As you know, Bob, your mother left you at the age of five to run off to California with the family lawyer, leaving you to be raised by your bohemian grandparents. Do think it’s affecting your judgment about this child abandonment case?”

Be careful about dialogue that’s there just to inform the reader. Bob would know what his mother did, and wouldn’t need to be told or reminded.

“You’re too close to this case, Bob.”
“What do you mean?” He crossed his arms.
She spoke with a hitch of hesitation in her voice. “You were the same age as this kid when your mom . . .”
She didn’t have to say it. As a child, he’d prayed for an earthquake to swallow up both his mother and the ex-family lawyer in California. Maybe he was too close to this.

Some things won’t seem like telling at first, but at closer look they might:

She spoke with a hitch of hesitation in her voice. “You were the same age as this kid when your mom left you for the family lawyer.” (Does Bob need to be reminded whom she ran off with?)

vs.

She spoke with a hitch of hesitation in her voice. “You were the same age as this kid when your mom left.”

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