Today found me driving home in fog, mist, and rain while listening to old radio classics: Screen Director’s Play (The Big Clock, The Trouble With Women, Meet Mr. McNutley, Jack Benny Program), When Radio Was (Burns & Allen Pt2, Crime Classics, Let George Do It, Crime Club), Inner Sanctum Mysteries (Amazing Death of Mrs. Putnam, Death Pays the Freight, The Whistler, Suspense) just to name a few.
I love listening to these old shows. They show how writing has changed. In the Golden Age of Radio, the writing needed to create the actual picture in the listener’s head. With the possibility of confusing one actor’s voice with another, the writing had to be spot on for the listener.
I look at some people’s writing and think that they need to listen to old radio shows. They need to understand the various ways to make sure the reader, rather than the listener, knows which character is saying what in dialogue WITHOUT ALWAYS relying on dialogue tags.
Awhile ago, I participated in a dialogue only writing challenge: could I tell a story with only dialogue.
Here is my attempt. Let me know what you think.
By Karna Tecla
“Wow! — The beach is crowded. — Damn, George, why’d you back hand me in the chest?”
“Sam, look – at – that!”
“Look at what? There are no rideable waves out there today.”
“Not the water, you idiotic beach bum. That goddess over in the life guard chair. She has got to be new here.”
“Hmmm, never seen her before. Hey, she’s getting down for the chair. Why don’t you go over and introduce yourself.”
“To a goddess that hot and delicious?”
“Yeah, you chicken?”
“No, but the guy she’s talking to is ripped.”
“So, you got surfer charm.”
“Yeah, I do, don’t I. — Hey, sweetheart, you’re a goddess and I’m a god, can I take you to heaven?”
“Listen, weasel, was you just trying to hit on Lydia?”
“Go pump some iron, dude. — So, is Lydia a goddess’s name? If so, I could use some religious education.”
“Excuse me? Do I need to clear the beach because of the oil slick you are creating?”
“No, honey, but I’d love to rub tanning oil all over your sexy body.”
“Get lost, looser.”
“I am lost – lost in your beauty, but I don’t want to find my way out.”
“Take your arm off me. Thank you. I can’t put it any clearer. LEAVE ME ALONE!”
“Lydia, this guy still hassling you?”
“Don’t worry, Eric, I can handle myself. I took karate so I would be able to handle guys like this.”
“Karate, huh, goddess Lydia? Wanna show me some moves?”
“Sam, are you ok? Sam, what happened?”
“The bitch knows karate!”