Friday, May 19, 2006

Serials and Scenarios - Change-Ups - Mary DeMuth

I thought today was an appropriate day to share Mary's thoughts. Thanks, Mary.

If you could change something in any novel, what would you change about it and why?

I would change the horrific dialogue in the DaVinci Code. Here’s something I wrote about it:

Living in France, where the DaVinci Code is THE thing, I needed to know what all the hubbub was about.

So, I read it.

Here’s my take.

The first part of the book was suspenseful and had a unique premise, but halfway through I got very bogged down. My big beef (besides the fact that Brown needed my editor-who would have hung me out to dry for some of his lapses) was his terrible use of dialogue, particularly when the main characters are chatting in the library. He uses something called Author Convenience: telling readers information through narrative or dialogue that sounds preachy or didactic.

Here’s my take on the way he uses Authorial Convenience. (This is not from his book, just my tongue and cheek rendition):

“Hmm, tell me, what Jesus really Mary Magdalene’s husband?”

“Well, yes,” the kindly professor pulled a book off the shelf. “It’s been my life’s work. You see, I’m an EXPERT, so you must listen to me.” He leafed through some pages of the rather large book. “It says it right here on page 459 of Why Everyone Knows Mary and Jesus Were an Item. George Longwind, distinguished professor of Heresy at Norbridge asserts that Jesus and the Divine Feminine had to be one. And that for God to truly redeem mankind, Jesus had to have offspring.”

“No kidding? It says that in the book?”

“Yes, and if you turn to page 985, you’ll be assured this view is widely held by Leprechauns.”

“I don’t believe in Leprechauns.”

“Well, you should, because according to my research, Leprechauns invaded Ireland and invented the potato. It’s right here on page 25 of Why We Can Thank the Leprechauns that Ireland is Green.”

“I don’t believe in Ireland.”

“That’s illogical. You need to study Anselm’s ontological argument, and then you’d understand everything. Just like me.”

“Um, well, do you have a bologna sandwich?”

“I do. But first let me tell you about the origin in bologna.”

OK, so I’m a bit weird, but you get the idea. Dialogue should not be used to parrot information back and forth. The only time you would write dialogue that way is if your character were off-the-charts prideful and wanted to boast of everything he knew. Find other ways to get large pieces of information to your reader.


Mary E. DeMuth has been crafting prose since 1992, first as a newsletter editor, then as a freelance writer, followed by a fiction and nonfiction author. Mary’s articles have appeared in Marriage Partnership, In Touch, HomeLife, Discipleship Journal, Pray!, Bon Appetit, Kindred Spirit, P31 Woman, and Hearts at Home. For two years she penned a lifestyle column for Star Community Newspapers in Dallas (circulation 100,000). Mary’s books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005), Sister Freaks (Time Warner, 2005, one of four contributing authors, Editor Rebecca St. James), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), Watching the Tree Limbs, and Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, both novels releasing in 2006). In 2003, she won the Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference’s Pacesetter Award. Mary loves to speak about the art and craft of writing as well as the redemptive hand of God in impossible situations. She’s spoken in Munich, Vienna, Amsterdam, Portland, Dallas, Seattle, Florence, Monaco and San Jose. A thirty-nine-year-old mother of three, Mary lives with her husband Patrick in the South of France. Together with two other families, they are planting a church.

Mary E. DeMuth
Christ Follower. Novelist. Freelance Writer.
Author: Building the Christian Family You Never Had
and Watching the Tree Limbs: A Novel
Blog. Website.