Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Weather-talk

Image Courtesy: Google
Meet your neighbor in the bus stop, or a relative, an old colleague, or acquaintance at a party, the most convenient and approachable topic of our conversation—the no-fire zone of our lives—is weather talk.

“What a weather! Hadn’t felt anything like this in years!” It could also be ‘rain-talk’, or even ‘snow-talk’, and vary in accordance with the environmental peculiarities of the place one inhabits. Here, in Cannanore, Kerala, the Southern side of India, it is mostly ‘rain’. Sometimes, ‘heat’ becomes a topic too.

What does this have to do with a writer?

For fiction writers, dialogues are a vital part of their craft. Making believable dialogues decides the quality of you story. A tale sometimes can become one long dialogue. The silliness of rain-talk or weather-talk can be a flavor in the dialogues you create for you characters to deliver.

I, once, read a novel about an academician, who goes in search of a secret code from ancient India. The protagonist, in some places, talk like a teenager in some Hollywood high school movie. At some other occasion, he delivers dialogues much like Robert Langdon from Da Vinci Code. No doubt, the book I mentioned is the result of a pathetic attempt at imitating some successful books or movies.

Uriah Heep, the Dickensonian character from David Copperfield, and Mr. Peggotty, from the same novel, appears unique, not just, because they are described ‘differently’, but also through their interactions. A major part of their interactions is happening through dialogues. The phrases and abstract formations that recur in their conversations, register their uniqueness in our mind. The “Umble” Uriah and the rustic fisherman Peggotty are poignant enough to stick with us, even long after reading the book, due to this.

At the same time, we should set a reminder to ourselves. An indiscriminate use of the weather-talk or any such raw ingredient from our day-to-day lives could risk the integrity of our story.

However, this should not prevent us from utilizing our mundane connections creatively. The ultimate rule of writing is never ‘certainty’. Who knows if you could stumble upon gold while treading the dirt road? Don’t hesitate if you feel it can give your characters originality, to make them ask; “So how was the weather up north, Johnny?”

About Anu Lal

Anu Lal is the author of Wall of Colors and Other Stories. He lives in Kerala, South India. He blogs at The Indian Commentator 
You can catch up with him in Facebook too. 

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