Friday, June 24, 2011

A little dialogue + vomiting baby = effective scene

Laura Burkey wrote about one of those classic parent moments and delivered the payoff in a nice little scene.

We settled into one of the back pews, just in case Amelia decided to announce her presence. We stood as the priest, altar boys and lector proceeded up the aisle and Amelia finished the last sips of her bottle in my arms.
I turned my 19-pound 11-month-old into the upright burping position.
Pat, pat, pat
"Good afternoon."
Pat, pat, pat
"Good afternoon, Father."
Gurgle, sputter, choke
I stopped patting. Horrified, my eyes met my dad's as he shoved his hankie toward Amelia.
"Oh my!" the elderly woman whispered behind me as liquid hit the pew and my Gram's shoes.
Now think about how that could have been written with exposition -- "I turned her into the upright burping position. I patted her on the back as the priest said, 'Good afternoon,' and we responded, 'Good afternoon, Father.' Then she started making sounds like she was about to spit up. ....' -- and see how much more effective it is the way Laura wrote it.