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 June, 2008

Repartee in Stageplays and Fiction Writing Dialog
 by Geoff Adeleye

[Repartee = banter (ed.)] Before I talk about repartee, I will like to throw some light on realistic dialog; for there can not be repartee without realistic dialog. Writing realistic dialog could be tricky but not too taxing if only its art is well-understood. .... (continued below...)


5 Human Body Senses and Creativity


by Dr.Claude Shema-Rutagengwa

How have all the so-called big stars and artists in all disciplines become very popular?
There is a simple secret behind all these scenes. Just creativity.
Unless a miracle from above would contradict me, I do believe that creativity doesn’t come from magic forces. Not at all. It comes through our 5 human body senses and then to the human engine (brain) for orientation and task-dispatching, then via our arms, voice, legs, hands, eyes and other similar implementing body parts in our personal creative process. That is how it works.

The Link between Creativity and Human Body Senses

The toughest struggle for artists or any other person wishing to get inspiration is to find a real subject to talk about or a topic to develop, which eventually must match the interests of an audience or readers. Let us take a simple example of a novel writer. A novel writer with 10 packets of ink pens or more, or today in the modernized word with a laptop/PC in a very good condition, without any health problem, still cannot something worthwhile because of a lack of inspiration.
I walked around in a flourishing garden or in a romantic forest with thousands of biodiversity but without result. I traveled 5 continents of our planet in vain.
But then, it was simply to give a chance to all 5 body senses so that one-by-one they would have time to get in touch with the brain, and get oriented and task-dispatching. In other words, just to feel what is touching your skin, even a small piece of pollen from a wildflower or  a half of one among millions of your pet’s hair is enough to get inspiration about your next novel’s title and content. Then the second phase, after seeing (sight) and feeling (somatic sensation- tactition), the brain analyzes the event (pressure perception), and provides prognosis and therapy towards any possible artistic transformation. In so doing, of course with time and peace of mind, the novel writer can get inspired via the brain’s work. As a result of that artistic transformation, thousands of ideas then comes in like snow falling, due to the innumerable ideas given by brain:
 -     the origin of the hair

  1. the length of the hair
  2. the color of the hair
  3. behaviors/attitudes of the pet
  4. the smell of the pollen, its length, origin, surroundings, history, habitat, and so many other details related to that small almost invisible thing.

Then, with that ignition of inspiration, an artist can also link the developed ideas through what I call herein the “artistic transformation” to another type of existing or imagination-based things, which can lead to all sort of art and stimulate more artistic ideas and generate thousands of artistic products.
Note: The handicapped person, missing one or some parts of 5 human body senses, can have some limits of course, but the rest of their body senses also can play a key role as normal persons, and sometimes in an advanced state. Nevertheless, the brain matters more than a single human body sense.

Artistic Evolution Progress

The artistic evolution progress nowadays used by different artists is based on sight. They usually compose upon what they see at first sight, and unfortunately can ignore the smaller items which can well be pillars of the arts.
Example: On the beach, the first source of inspiration as the base of the future artistic product may be “the handsome guy surfing”, or a “beautiful girl in bikini style”. All right!
It’s a brilliant idea to develop. But the problem is that there will not be a diversity of artistic products because every single artist will sing-write-imitate the same words from the same source, then the lack of originality  will cause dissatisfaction, while normally the unique words and rarely fascinating writing or singing style are the success of  a good gain.
Instead of focusing always on the same inspiration subject like a handsome guy surfing on the long beach or a beautiful girl in bikini style, better for artist to focus on the forgotten small or invisible things linked to the beach, like footprints engraved on sand at the seaside, and develop some ideas along those footprints seen over there.
The same scenario applies to artists who are caught by a unique source of inspiration like “love”. Sometimes it sounds disgusting and the audience is generally tired of hearing that mono style. But eventually there is another way to write about “love” by linking it to a different source of inspiration, or combine it with something else like wind, waterfalls, birds, a small child, Albatross, waves, etc, and sometimes comparing love and something else as a description, like the bark of a tree & love. Just not talking only I love you, the first time we met, I want to be with you, I want you to be mine forever, I want to kiss you or whenever we kiss each other, etc…! Just talk about something natural or imaginary, develop it, somehow as half or full fiction-based style, then bring those most used words at the end. Just to create curiosity for the audience from the beginning to the end. Fascinating indeed.
There are so many examples to speak about, but we cannot write all of them on this small paper.

Creativity, Human Body and Nature

This is normally the circle of art of all kinds. We get often inspiration from nature and then transform and produce it through our body, but at the end we bring it back again to nature. In another word, we compose upon what we see, what we feel, what we smell, what we taste, what we hear, and sometimes by using also a 6th sense which is seen as imagination/thinking/dreaming, from nature, then bringing the final artistic work (final product) back to nature again (audience with the  impact to the rest of biodiversity).


Oval: Mind

RutagengwaRutagengwaRutagengwaRutagengwaEnvironment Human Human Environment
Body .. Body


The Secret of Creativity

By trying to make short and comprehensive notes about this topic, I have some clue towards the secret of creativity. In doing so, let’s ask some short questions ourselves:
1. How often do we think that small insects like ants could be the source of greater inspiration?
2. Have you ever thought that the acrobatic jumping of squirrels from one branch of a tree to another could be a brilliant source to generate a huge, voluminous novel?
3. How often do we pay attention to our dreams and then develop something linked to the dreams we had last long night?
4. Often, in a cold winter, we get wet and cold. How often do we write about a slippery, icy road?
5. How often do we think and write something about the blossom after winter?
6. How often do we think and write about the humming of heavy cars?
7. How often do we count one piece of sand after another on the beach and write about how they get together until they make that big sand-made mattress on which beach-lovers get a tan?
The more we focus on the foundations of the inspiration, the more we get inspired and become more productive.
 Let’s get on track and good luck!

Repartee in Dialog... (continued)

As I understand it, realistic dialog is coherent flow of thoughts in their natural sequence. Its role in fiction can not be disparaged; this is based on the fact that what the characters say and how they say it goes a long way to divulge much more information to the readers than any other things in the story. It also enables a reader to know what a character wants to say. Mind you, the ability to keep the readers in suspense, the books clutched in their hands, is the real achievement of the entire work.

Moreover, realistic dialog is not limited to fiction alone, stage plays need it far much more – in fact, and it is indispensable. A stage play brings the whole events of a story into life as if it is just happening. And for any meaningful impression, the dialog must be realistic.

Furthermore, reflecting on the monumental significance of realistic dialog, it is advisable for fiction writers as well as playwrights to study stage plays’ dialog for more ideas.

Nevertheless, it is necessary we understand that well-coordinated dialog often achieves some level of repartee, which does a great deal of benefits to any narrative or screenplay. Repartee is just quick, witty and amusing comments or retorts. Here I present to you some principles, or guides or clues for achieving repartee in dialog.

Firstly, literary writers especially the fiction writers and playwrights, are not expected to behave like the scientist detaching themselves from objects of their works which is the society. A fiction writer or playwright who wants to be a writer of note has got to listen to people when they talk to each other. Many writers fail on this, and it has rendered their works non-impressive, even though their output should have been earthshaking.

I am of the opinion that there is nothing wrong in moving closer to people who are quarreling or engaging in heated argument so as to overhear them or even participate. Writers must not shy away simply because of the saying that curiosity killed the cat; they must be adventurous like the journalists. Listening to people’s conversation is the surest way of achieving repartee, even realistic dialog.

Secondly, there must be matching concept; that is, matching the characters’ roles with appropriate dialog. It becomes convoluted when fitting the right wording into the characters’ conversations. If the dialog contradicts the role – I mean if it is implausible, everything turns into a mess. Writers have the responsibility of ensuring that dialog fits into the characters’ roles.

Thirdly, to achieve repartee in dialog, the utterances must be in simple sentences; and if for anything it must be complex – I mean complex sentences, it must be broken down into phrases and/or clauses by appropriate punctuation marks. By now I believe you are clued in.

Meanwhile, another form of dialog is banter, which is friendly jokes or remarks; it will not be too startling if I say that light and playful banter can be achieved while discussing a serious matter, you will notice this later.

Briefly, as for my understanding of what dialog is all about, I will divide it into three groups of utterances. In the meantime, what we say is utterance; therefore, dialog is a body of utterances. The three divisions or components of dialog are:

  1. Introductory Utterance (IU): It opens up a dialog. It could be a Question(Q), or a Proposal(P), or a Request(R), or a Declaration(D)
  2. Emphatic utterance (EU): It indicates weighty reactions. It could be an Answer(A), or a Question(Q), or a Counter Question(CQ), or a Proposal(P), or a Declaration(D)
  3. Simple Utterances (SU): It is an uncomplicated expression of words. It could be a Question(Q), or an Answer(A), or a Declaration(D), or an Exclamation(E) or Command(C)

At this junction it is needful, if not imperative, to have a comprehensive example where both banter and repartee are achieved; and in which the characters are hardly distinguished. We assume a woman mistakenly steps on a man’s foot unnoticed, and he becomes annoyed because she does not apologize. He pulls her, and she turns and looks straight into his eyes. Let us see how they resolved the matter.

JAMES: Don’t you know you are supposed to apologize? (IU, Q)
JANET: For what? (EU, CQ)
JAMES: Stepping on my foot, of course. (SU, D)
JANET: What will my apology do to you? (EU, Q)
JAMES: You don’t need to know; just apologize. (SU, C)                           
JANET: I won’t. It’s of no use. (Su, D)
JAMES [piqued]: You don’t rule your mouth, and I shall
   Teach you how to do so. (SU, D)
JANET: What will you do? (EU, Q)
JAMES: Bash you up, of course. (EU, A)                                                   
JANET: Another man’s wife? (EU, Q)           
JAMES: Let that go to pit. I don’t give two hoots! (EU, E)
JANET [drops her handbag]: Let’s give it a trial. (SU, P)
JAMES [shocked]: You? (EU, Q)
JANET: Yes, I don’t quail! (EU, E)
JAMES: A punch of my fist will blow you up in shreds, you
    Know. (EU, D)
JANET: That isn’t a threat. The pieces shall gather abroad, and I
    shall be whole again. (SU, D)
JAMES: You must be a witch! (SU, E)
JANET: Aren’t you a wizard when your fist would blow up a
   woman? (EU, Q)
JAMES: Rubbish! (EU, E)
JANET: Nonsense! (EU, E)
        They depart in opposite directions.

A few of the above utterances will be lightly expatiated. Looking at line 1, the initial utterance is a serious question which reveals that the man is indeed piqued, and he will be relieved only by the woman’s apology (as he thinks). Line 2 shows the woman’s ignorance of the incident; and that is the reason she resorts to question. Moving down to line 5, it is crystal clear that the man is badly in need of apology to soothe his plastic pain. Reflecting on line 6, the woman is still defending her ignorance or perhaps innocence; she is not done for peace either. Line 7 reveals that the man wants apology at all cost. Coming down to line 13 and further downwards, an element of banter is acutely conspicuous.

Before I round up, we will have a short example where the characters have a distinctive manner of speaking. We will assume a woman wants to coerce her husband into giving her money.

REGINA: Bill, where is the money? (IU, Q)
BILL: I haven’t got the money yet. (SU, D)
REGINA: You can’t mean it. I need it badly. (EU, D)
BILL: I think you’ve got to be patient. (SU, D)
REGINA: It is either you give me or I do otherwise. (EU, P)
BILL: You can’t afford to be unruly. (SU, D)
REGINA: But I could get nasty. (EU, D)
BILL: I trust you. You can’t make a crack! (SU, E)

Looking at the above utterances, the characters are distinctive in their manner of speaking. Bill is unruffled and does not play hard on words; however, Regina is aggressive, and harsh on words.

Summarily, the mastery of our imaginations and/or perhaps stories heard depends largely on how realistic the dialog is; likewise, our diction influences the level of repartee achieved.

Conclusively, are there benefits for realistic dialog that achieves repartee? Yes, there are, very numerous! I will consider two of them. Firstly, realistic dialog gives us preference over others; and consequently, wider readership and a larger market for our works. Secondly, it displays our intelligence or skill in handling our stories or our professionalism in writing.

I am pleased to see you achieving uncommon repartee in dialog!

Geoff Adeleye.


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