Sarah Is Depressed: Dialogue Critique

It’s been forever since I wrote anything on here.  Life is busy.  And since I’m too frazzled to write anything new, I thought another unedited excerpt from my NaNoWriMo novel would do nicely.  After all, this is the place where I write the embarrassing stuff I’m too afraid to show anyone that actually knows me.  This fits that criteria.

This is about Sarah, the future love of Bradley’s life.  She is David‘s current “distraction.”

I appreciate any feedback but I want you to focus on the dialogue.  Is it believable?  Forced?  Does the dialogue between Mel and Sarah reveal anything about their character?  If so, what is your impression of them?


old telephone via stock.xchngThe phone was ringing as Sarah walked into her apartment.  She dropped her bags and ran to the kitchen.  “Hello,”  she was breathless.

“Sarah, are you alright?  It sounds like you’ve been exercising or something.”  It was Melody.

“No, I just walked into the door and had to run to the phone.”

“And that made you breathless?  Really, Sarah, I think you need to do some cardio or something.  That’s pretty sad.”

“Thanks.  Did you call for another reason than to rag me about my general lack of fitness?  Cause if that’s all, I think I’ll hang up now.”

“Geez, Sarah.  You are so touchy lately.  What is wrong with you?”

Sarah sighed.  “I’m sorry.  I’m just tired.  Always tired. What’s up?”  Sarah opened the refrigerator to get something to drink.  All that was in there was a can of diet coke, a bag of coffee, and a wrinkly apple.  She grabbed the diet coke and took a swig.  Flat.  She threw it in the trash and opened up a cabinet.  She took out the half-eaten sleeves of stale saltines and ran a glass of water while Melody prattled on.

“I was wondering if you’d like to go out to dinner tomorrow night.  I haven’t seen you in a week and I miss you.  Even though you haven’t been very good company lately.  I think it’d be good for you to get out.  Maybe we can go see a movie or something.”

“I don’t really feel like it, Mel.  I’m working a lot and when I get off I just want to come home and veg.  Know what I mean?”  Sarah nibbled on the edge of the cracker.  It tasted like cardboard.  She threw the rest in the trash.

I know what you mean, but I don’t think you do.”  Melody grumbled.

“I don’t know what you mean by that.”  Sarah sat on the kitchen chair and waited for Melody’s usual scolding.  From the moment she told Melody that Bradley had broken up with her, Melody had been treating her like she had a terminal illness.  Like she was on death’s doorstep and it was up to Melody to fulfill all her wishes and make sure she lived out a full life in the short time she had left on earth.  Sarah hated the fuss and begged off as often as she could.  She’d been wrangled into a pottery class, bad community theater, and endless shopping trips at all of Melody’s favorite stores–girly boutiques that looked like they’d been drenched in Pepto Bismol.  Sarah appreciated Melody’s attempts to cheer her up, but they made her more depressed.  Made her miss her times with Bradley, sitting on the couch and talking.  Filling her day up with activities did not help her.

“Yes, you do.  You mean you’d rather sit there in that empty apartment, mope, and not eat than put any effort into getting over…things.”

“You can say the name, ‘Bradley,’ Mel.  I promise I won’t go into hysterics or anything.  I’m doing stuff.  The tutoring is going really well.  I’m still at the Center one night a week, and I’m working.  I’ve even been to The Bean Hill a few times to see Suzanne.  See?  I’m not sitting around pining after Bradley.”  Sarah winced when she said the name.  Truth is, she didn’t like to hear or say the name.  His name made her stomach ache–pure, gut-wrenching pain.

“Yeah, right.  I’m not buying it.  You look awful, girl.  You’re too thin and you don’t do anything with yourself.  I’m worried about you.”  Melody sounded like she was crying.

“Thanks a lot.  I’ll have you know that I got hit on in the library today by a very cute guy.  I must be doing alright.”  For once, Sarah was grateful for unwanted attention.

“Hmph.  Some guys will hit on anything with breasts.  I’m sorry,” Melody quickly added before Sarah could say anything, “that wasn’t nice.”

“No, it wasn’t, but it was true.”  Sarah laughed.  “Look, Mel, if I promise to come with you tomorrow night will you promise to leave me alone for a while?  I know I’m moping.  I know I’m depressed.  I have a right to be.  I loved Bradley and he dumped me.  I know it was my fault, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.”

“Sarah?  Why won’t you tell me what happened?  It doesn’t make any sense why he would just break up with you like that.  He loves you.  I know he does.  What did you do to him?”

Sarah didn’t know what to say.  She’d been avoiding telling Melody because she knew how stupid she’d sound.  How she’d thrown away the best thing that ever happened to her for what amounted to an act of rebellion toward her mother.  It was embarrassing.  Immature.

“Sarah, are you there?  You don’t have to answer me if you don’t want to.  It’s none of my business but I just want to understand.  You guys were perfect.”

“Nobody’s perfect, Mel.  We had some issues we just couldn’t get over.  It wasn’t fair for me to keep Bradley when I couldn’t give him everything he wanted and deserved.  He wants marriage and kids.  I don’t.  That’s not something he could live with.  He did the right thing.”

“Marriage.  That’s what it was about?  I love you, dear friend, but you are an idiot.  You’re letting your mother ruin your life.  I thought that was why you moved out here in the first place.  To get away from her and get on with living your life how you see fit.  Am I wrong?”

“No,you’re not wrong, but you’re not completely right, either.  You don’t have all the information.”

“Really.  What aren’t you telling me because I want to understand.  I didn’t think we had any secrets from each other.”  Melody sounded hurt.

“We’ve all got secrets, Mel.  You tell me what really happened between you and Dirk and maybe I’ll tell you mine.”  The suspicion she’d always harbored toward Melody and Dirk’s “chaste” relationship came tumbling out before she could stop them.  She wished she could say she was sorry for it.  She wasn’t.  Melody was too pushy and judgemental.  She had it coming.

Melody’s end was quiet for a long time before Melody said in a very small voice, “Fine.  I’ll leave you alone with your secrets, Sarah.  Don’t worry about tomorrow.  I’ll talk to you later.”  She hung up the phone.

Sarah slammed down the phone.  “Good!  Now maybe you’ll leave me the hell alone.”  She opened up the cabinet and took out the sleeping pills and downed them with her glass of water.  She needed sleep.  She hadn’t slept more than 12 hours in the last week.  She was off tomorrow and planned on sleeping until she felt like waking up.  She unplugged the phone and the alarm clock and laid down on her bed.

Lying there, waiting for the pills to do their magic, she tried to read a book.  The words were blurring on the page and she threw it on the floor.  She stared at the exposed beams on her ceiling.  She saw a spider crawling on the dark wood and considered getting the broom to kill it.  She decided she was too lazy.  She watched it crawl across the ceiling, wondering which direction it would take next.  It eventually made its way to the corner, and disappeared into a crack.  She wished she could do the same.  It was her life and she was tired of everyone else thinking they knew what was best for her.  Her mother, Bradley, and now Melody.  She needed someone in her life who thought she was enough, that she could make the best decisions for herself and didn’t try to interfere.  Who had their own lives to worry about more than hers.  A stranger who had no expectations of her.

I need a break from the drama she thought as her eyes closed, bringing much-needed relief for what she hoped would be the next 12 hours.


4 comments on “Sarah Is Depressed: Dialogue Critique

  1. I enjoyed that very much and I thought the dialogue was very believable. You got the tone and the nuances of each speaker just right. Just one little thing jumped out at me
    The line “Melody’s end was quiet for a long time before Melody said….” maybe revise that line for a smoother read. But apart from that nicely written and I look forward to reading more of this story.

    Thanks for sharing
    Jess 🙂

  2. Great dialogue! I agree with tweaking that one line and here’s me being picky: Is it pining after or pining OVER? I’m not sure. :/

    • Hmmm. I looked it up.

      According the Free Dictionary, both are acceptable:

      to long for or grieve for someone or something. Bob pined after Doris for weeks after she left. Dan is still pining for his lost dog. There is no point in pining over Claire. http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/pining

      So, I suppose you can pine “over” or pine “after” someone or something. I prefer to pine after someone but it’s perfectly acceptable to pine over someone as well. 🙂

      I suppose I should make Sarah pine for Bradley, just to be safe.

      Thanks for the comment and the question.

Feedback, Comments and Constructive Criticism Welcome and Appreciated

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: