About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Wednesday 25 January 2012


For those of you aspiring novelists out there.  I wrote this specially for you.

There is a 10 stage formula for generating crap dialogue.  It is as follows:
1. ‘(insert dull and mundane utterance which neither reveals character, nor advances the plot) followed by punctuation (use exclamation mark wherever possible, preferably several, and/or a row of dots….)!’
2. followed by he/she (or character’s name)
3. followed by a synonym for said (e.g. snapped, choked, snorted, ejaculated, burst out, whined, cried, sobbed, yelled, whispered, murmured, enquired, asked, stated, asserted, blurted, wavered, hooted, mumbled, stammered, stuttered, averred, pronounced.  You will find a thesaurus useful here.)
4. followed by an adverb, preferably a totally redundant one. E.g. ‘Sod off!!’ he yelled angrily. Or, ‘I love you,’ she whispered softly.
5. followed by a comma
6. followed by an action, which you should describe using as many adjectives as possible, and conclude with another adverb/adverbial phrase and a rubbish simile.  E.g. “…he snapped haughtily, running his long pianist’s fingers through his long black raven locks nervously, like an anxious cat with tummy ache.’  (Notice the repetition of ‘long’ there.)
7. repeat this formula with the other person in the dialogue, then continue, alternating for several dreary pages, making sure a)that you slow the action down as much as possible by clogging it with pointless descriptions and b)that nothing of any significance has happened and c)that your characters are at least as boring and flat as they were at the start.
8. remember to switch view point
9. include careless repetitions 
10. Finally, never read your dialogue over with a view to editing or cutting it.

Here’s how it looks on the page:
All of a sudden on a balmy spring morning in April they met in the supermarket fruit section unexpectedly without warning.
            ‘Oh, what are you doing here, Martin?’ she gasped breathlessly, her long auburn hair whipping round her rather attractive features as if some tropical storm was softly wafting them about, he observed, even though they were in fact in the fruit aisle.
            ‘Oh, I’m just buying some bananas!’ he exclaimed jauntily, fingering some slightly under-ripe bananas with his slightly grubby hands with bitten nails somewhat in need of a manicure, thought Alice meanly. He’d obviously been busy at his job of painting and decorating.  ‘But these look a bit under-ripe!’ he quipped quippingly.
            ‘Oh yes they do a bit, don’t they?’ she riposted with a happy trilling laugh, turning to look at the melons which were also there in abundance.
            ‘I might get some spring onions as well…’ he trailed off lingeringly, his dark somehow melting eyes lingering on her full red lips coated in glossy scarlet lip gloss on which a small strand of hair was stuck, like a fly on some flypaper. 
            ‘Really?’ she enquired, gazing up into his handsome face with her wide green feline eyes that always made her look a bit like a cat, barely noticing the other shoppers who thronged round them bustlingly.
            ‘Yeah,’ he answered hesitatingly with a slight pause, starting to fiddle with the somewhat greenish-looking not ripe bananas as if they were worry beads or a rosary,
like a nun in a convent, she thought rather inappropriately. 
            ‘Oh well, best be getting on!’ she burbled wittily, starting to push her trolley away past the melons and pineapples and other assorted fruit piled high in the fruit aisle like it was a tropical island besides many vegetables as well like broccoli.  ‘See you, Martin!’
            ‘Oh, see you then Alice!’ he burst out anguishedly, wiping his rugged brow with a nail-bitten hand that had paint on, not knowing when he’d see her again if ever and picking up a bunch of spring onions with unseeing eyes. 
            ‘Yes, bye then, I’ll be off now,’ murmured Alice, glancing once more lingeringly into his darkly melting eyes like chocolate buttons left out too long in the sun as she clutched her handbag which she’d got with her.
            ‘Yeah, see you around then…’ he choked chokingly, as he pushed back an unruly wisp of dark hair from his melting brown eyes with the bunch of spring onions unseeingly.
            ‘Yeah, bye for now,’ she replied with a little laugh, her shoulders shaking like a tremulous leaf on a twig, arms dangling listlessly it seemed to him.  ‘Time to go. I just need some teabags then I’m done.’
            ‘Oh, you’re buying teabags are you?’ he mentioned casually, gripping the spring onions with whitened knuckles.
            ‘Yeah, I’ve run out of teabags,’ she explained with a thoughtful smile, tossing her blonde hair out of her feline eyes with a giggle.  ‘How annoying is that?’
            ‘That’s very annoying, yeah,’ agreed Martin, agreeing with her every word with an amused smile playing on his finely-chiselled lips, as though he found the whole situation highly amusing.


  1. Splendid! That "she laughed", "he smiled" thing is SO irritating!

  2. Shall we 'out' the crap authors here then? Name names?

    ('I thought amusingly to myself with a cheeky smirk on my face, whilst also wondering if I'd ever get my work done in an understatedly anguished way!')

  3. Oh that is marvellous. Way to make me laugh out loud at work, man.

  4. So glad you like it!!! she typed, running her hands through her mad woman hair, strangely in need of a cut, whilst laughing in a self-congratulatory manner, like a blogger who thinks she has just posted an immensely wise post in a clever way, rather intelligently.

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  6. "Bother," she said grumpily, reaching for the delete button. "There goes my piece for the next workshop...!!"

  7. Sorry, that's not quite right. You mean 'reaching for the small black glossy yet strangely dull delete button with a tremulous finger, like a fish quivering on a hook.' See how much better that is?

  8. That's a B- then. Must try harder ...