Allie couldn’t stop shaking, her mind clouded with fear. She would die if she couldn’t be still. They would see her and finally deliver the death she so deserved.
“Allie,” Serenity said, tapping her shoulder. “Allie it’s okay now, you’re safe.”
Allie wanted to scream at the woman. She was going to get them both killed. And yet, the dragons didn’t attack. Still trembling, she eventually raised her head just far enough to see the dragons bunched together over their prey.
“You don’t have to worry,” Serenity said, “I’ve set you free.”
Allie forced herself to breathe, trying to calm herself despite her still trembling body.
“Are you okay?” Serenity asked, completely at ease as her dragons devoured their food.
“You tamed them?” Allie whispered.
Serenity frowned, looking back at her dragons. “I raised them. They won’t hurt you, I promise.”
Allie slowly sat up, mildly comforted by the fact that Serenity stood between her and the dragons.
“There you go,” Serenity said encouragingly as she placed a scarf over her nose. “There’s nothing to be afraid of.”
Allie got to her feet, her eyes fixed on the dragons as they turned toward roughhousing with each other.
“Good girl,” said Serenity. “Now, seeing as you’re the only one left, the farm is yours… just as soon as we take what we need.”
Allie looked away from the dragons for the first time, her mouth hanging open in shock. “Mine?”
Serenity nodded. “Though I should have been more specific. As of tomorrow, the farm is yours. My people will take shelter here tonight.”
Allie flinched as the dragons grew in size, each trying to outdo the others as they tussled in the field.
“Oh good, there are my people now,” Serenity said, pointing to the hill behind Allie.
As Allie turned, a line of carriages appeared over the hill surrounded by crowds of people. Even that far away she could hear bouts of laughter echoing across the open field.
“Is that your army?”
Serenity frowned. “Do they look like an army?”
Allie shrugged, looking back at the house. “They won’t fit inside.”
Serenity chuckled. “They won’t need to.”
Feeling abashed, Allie watched the dragons move closer to the barn. She could barely hear the pigs’ squeals over the playful roars of the dragons.
“Why don’t you give me a tour?” Serenity said, gesturing toward the house.
Allie started to bow when Serenity caught her shoulder, forcing Allie to stand up straight. “You bow to no one,” she said, her eyes burning with intensity. “Not even me.”
Allie nodded, disturbed as Serenity released her shoulder. Fighting the urge to bow again, she turned and led Serenity to the house. “There’s not much to show.”
“How much grain do you have saved?” Serenity asked, looking out over the field.
“We only just started harvesting the field.”
Serenity nodded, her face contorted in thought. “How much is already harvested?”
Allie shrugged, shaking her head. “Not much, but your people can harvest more before you go.”
Serenity frowned. “No, we’ll just take what’s already saved.”
“It wouldn’t be much trouble,” Allie said. “You could get a lot of gra—“
“I said ‘no,’” Serenity said, cutting Allie off. “My people are not working your field.”
Allie found herself nodding, speechless as they arrived at the front door.
“How many rooms?”
Allie quickly counted them in her head. “Five bedrooms.”
“For six people?”
“Three of the rooms were empty,” Allie said, embarrassed. “The others and I had our own places outside.”
Serenity shook her head, her nose scrunched in disgust. Then, without warning, she screamed, punching the wall next to her.
Her fist went all the way through the wall, her hand returning bloodied and disfigured.
Allie jumped, still trying to process what happened as she began to search for some sort of bandage.
“Stop,” Serenity ordered, composed once more. “I’ll be fine, just show me the house.”
Allie froze, watching Serenity’s fist as it recomposed itself.
Serenity frowned at Allie, completely ignoring her fist. “I would really like to get moving,” she said as a single bead of sweat rolled down her forehead.
Huffing, she dabbed impatiently at her sweat, more annoyed about that than her fist as she waited for Allie to continue the tour.
“You’re an Immortal,” Allie said, her knees threatening to buckle.
Serenity sighed. “I suppose I can choose out my room later,” she said, turning on her heel. “Show me what’s in the barn.”
Allie rushed to catch up with her, instinctively following a step behind Serenity. She never thought she’d even see an Immortal, let alone be freed by one. It was just like the stories her parents would read to her as a child.
As they got closer to the barn, the sound and stench of the pigs became more obvious, prompting Serenity to re-cover her nose.
“You have swine?”
Allie rushed ahead to open the door of the barn, a fresh wave of stench rolling over them.
Serenity poked her head in briefly before gesturing for Allie to close the door. “How many?”
“Eleven,” Allie answered immediately.
Serenity nodded. “Good, that should be enough to hold us until we leave.”
Allie went pale.
“My people should be here soon. I trust you can help them get settled when they arrive?”
“I, um…” Allie stammered. “You can’t eat the pigs.”
Serenity froze, leveling Allie with an unwavering stare. Her face was unreadable as she pulled the cloth away from her face. “Until we’re done using it, this is my farm.”
Allie fought to stay calm as her body started to shake once more. Out of the corner of her eye, she suddenly became aware of all four dragons growing still in the field. Each had their eyes fixed on her.
“They’re my pigs,” Allie managed, her throat dry and swollen. “I raised them.”
Serenity mouth pulled into a thin line. “My people need food.”
Allie’s heart raced, her hands clenching into nervous fists.
Then Serenity sighed. “But I suppose we can manage without eating the pigs.”
Allie nearly collapsed out of relief as the dragons returned to their playful fighting.
“Besides,” Serenity continued, “I imagine you’d need the company, seeing as you’d be out here all by yourself once we leave.”
“Thank you,” she whispered, her heart still racing from the adrenaline of the moment. Then her mind started spinning.
“Here comes my friend Henry,” Serenity said, pointing across the field.
Allie didn’t look, too distracted by her thoughts as she came to a decision. “I want to come with you.”
Serenity frowned at her. “You don’t want the farm?”
Allie shook her head. “I don’t have any business running a farm.”
Serenity looked Allie over critically. “You’re underestimating yourself. You’d do a better job than its previous owner.”
“All due respect, Ms. Immortal, but it’s not a matter of whether or not I can do it. I’m alone. I can’t protect myself. As soon as you leave, someone would just take it from me. But I follow you… maybe you could protect me.”
Serenity frowned, glancing between Allie and her people. “Alright,” she relented. “You can come with us.”
Allie allowed herself to breathe, smiling for the first time in a long time. “Can I bring my pigs?”
“Dialogue,” I said. “It’s super important. If done well, it can bring authenticity to your writing. If not…”
There are 3 keys to dialogue that I just made up. It also happens to spell A.M.P., so there you go. AMP up your dialogue through…
This holds true for every part of storytelling. Do NOT force your characters to do anything. BE TRUE to your characters and let them make the decisions.
Serenity is used to giving orders. Allie is used to following them. Their words and actions should reflect that. Same goes for their decisions. Ultimately, every story is about the people in them. If the characters are false, so is the story, and you can almost always tell.
So this is a big part of multiplicity, which we’ve talked about already. People are complicated and are never ever just doing one thing at a time. So if you want your characters to feel real: show them in action. This applies always, but is especially obvious regarding dialogue.
“What?” Asked Fred.
“I asked you to wash the dishes,” replied Mary.
“Oh,” said Fred. “Okay.”
“What?” Fred yelled, shoving his hearing aid further into his ear.
Mary rolled her eyes, poking her head out from the laundry room. “I asked you to wash the dishes.”
“Oh,” said Fred, sighing as he paused the television. “Okay.”
It makes all the difference. It’s just a matter of practicing how to incorporate natural movement into dialogue.
So this is basically a principle for not just dialogue, but also scenes in general:
Everybody wants something.
And that something can’t be easy to obtain. If it was, there would be no story. Something has to be stopping the character from obtaining what they want. So the story is about the attempt to overcome that obstacle to obtain what you want. Take this and apply it to dialogue:
Great dialogue is filled with meaningful conflict.
Every piece of dialogue should be pointed toward a certain end. For Serenity and Allie, their purposes shift throughout the chapter. Regardless of whether or not their intents are clear, the important part is that they never dialogue without a purpose.
- NEVER add dialogue just to give us information.
- NEVER add dialogue just to move the story along.
- ONLY use dialogue if the character needs to dialogue in order to reach a particular end… and then WHILE you’re doing that you can give us information and move the story along (hurray multiplicity)