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Looking for a Good Fluffer?

Regular masochists readers of this blog know that I like to use outrageous titles and then talk about something unexpected but related. Since there’s no way I would risk talking about the most obvious urban definition of ‘fluffer’, I thought I’d discuss the unpaid and underappreciated men and (mostly) women whose job it is to keep adult actors and actress ready to go when the directors cries, “Action!”

Oh wait, that’s what most people think of when they hear the word “fluffer.” Well nuts, I guess I’ll talk about something else.

Ooh, what about when you’ve got a story that needs some more oomph? More content. More details and explanation. You’ve got a good idea and its framed out, but it needs something to fill it in. Fluff it up. Make it stand out and be noticed. Try dialogue.

What? But my main character is the strong silent type. Well duh, of course he is. What manly man isn’t? This post alone will contain more words than I’m likely to say over the course of this entire week. Good thing a decent dialogue requires at least two parties!

Or you could realize that communication and dialogue is so much more than he said, she said. Facial expressions, hand gestures (or finger gestures, in some cases), and body language can tell just as much as words do. Which do you prefer:

“I don’t think so,” she said icily.

She crossed her arms and looked down her nose at him as she said, “I don’t think so.”

The first one is sterile. It tells us what she said and how she said it. It doesn’t show us. It doesn’t help paint the picture in our head. It gives us just enough to make us finish out the details. Is she wearing a sweater or a tank top? Is the sunlight glinting off her diamond ring? Is the blood on her neck dried or still fresh? And is it her blood?

A good scene of dialogue does a lot more than just paint pictures though. It gives the writer a chance to share things he can’t easily share otherwise. Sure, there’s the infodump method of explaining why the moon split in half after the Chinese lunar mining mission suffered a catastrophic accident, but you lose a reader’s interest quickly with the dry material. It’s much better to not only share the information in a fun and intriguing dialogue between characters, but it also lets you introduce more about your characters to the reader and establish their personalities. And it takes up words. Words, ultimately, are what make up a novel.

Pick a scene and write it. Maybe it’s about your children playing on a tire swing. Maybe it’s a man fishing on the shore of a river with his trust dog. Maybe a starfighter pilot survived a crash into an enemy hanger. What’s the goal of the scene: Survival? Fun? Running away from a creepy guy with an axe? Alerting a nearby village about a tribe of raiding orcs? Whatever, write it down. Then when you’ve got the basic idea figured out flesh it out. Add the interactions between characters. Put in dialogue and make it come to life.  Good fluff like that will double the size of a scene and take it from something that sounds good on paper to something that looks good in your mind.

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

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