EelKat Wendy C Allen - zdark Fantasy Author



How to Write a Character Falling Asleep (First Person)? | Writing Dialogue




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>I'm trying to imply that my narrator is falling asleep through what they say (and how they say it) in the final paragraph. Just to give you an idea of what I mean, here's what I've got in my first draft.

>I had a bit of a hard time trying to write this and, in my opinion at least, it really doesn't work. Anyone got some tips for writing this kind of passage? Just to be clear, I'm not looking for a specific critique of the paragraph itself (although feel free if it helps you illustrate your point), but for a more general guide on how to do this right.

Yes. I agree. What you have written there falls flat. Not only in words but also in presentation.

It is unnatural to read long blocks of text as dialogue.

Dialogue is short and snappy and when down properly, that little paragraph of yours should instead be many paragraphs, spanning 2 or more pages of the novel.

If a person is talking while falling asleep, their last few lines often become disjointed and they start muttering things that are inconsistent. Plus, a tired person is not going to drone on in one long monologue the way you've written it. Also, in first person, you can easily add her unspoken thoughts in between. You can also show the other party getting upset over her drifting off. Like this...

Instead of this...

"We’ll just take it one day at a time until we get to New York, and just hope that what they say is true. If not… Then something else. We’ll think of something. Just one day at a time just now. Tomorrow we’ll go swimming and that will be fun. Elsie loves swimming. We used to swim in California. Elsie used to squeal like a little girl in the water. Such a wuss…"

Write this:

"I'm worried we are doing too much, too fast."

Does she really have to bring this up now?

~YAWN~

I am so tired. Maybe if I pretend I didn't hear her...

"Hey, are you listening to me?"

"Yeah. I hear you."

"Well?"

"We’ll just take it one day at a time until we get to New York, and just hope that what they say is true. If not…"

"And?"

"What?" I jumped and looked around, wondering where I was. Her harsh reply jerked me awake. How long had I been asleep?

"Are you even listening to me?"

"Yeah. What do you want?"

"You said 'If not'..."

"If not?" I tried to recall what it was I had been saying, but sleep was clouding my mind. "If not... oh! I know. Then something else."

"Something else? What do you mean, something else?"

"We’ll think of something."

"Do you even know what you're saying?"

No. I wasn't sure what I was saying. So tired. Way past my bed time. Why won't she just leave me alone and let me sleep already. Jese, you'd think she could take a hint.

"Just one day at a time just now," I muttered feeling as if I was in a dream.

"Don't you dare give me that one more day crap, you know it's bull crap."

"Tomorrow we’ll go swimming..."

"What? Are you even listening to me?"

"That'll be fun. Hmmmm. Swimming. I like swimming."

"What are you on about?"

"Elsie loves swimming too."

"Who's talking about Elsie. I was talking about us. Wake up you stupid dolt. You don't even know what you're saying."

"We used to swim... swim... in Califooooornia. He he."

"You're dreaming, you stupid 'git. You never lived in California."

"California..."

"Wake up!"

"Elsie used to squeal like a little girl in the water. Such a wuss…"

Can you see the change in flow, from one bunched up pile of text in a single paragraph, to a long fluid flow of dialogue spanning multiple pages?

Also...

THIS:


It was a stressful night and she was lying awake worrying. Focusing on Elsie calms her down and allows her to fall asleep, and I'm keeping it flowing like this to show that she doesn't even really realise she's calmed down. It shows how worry for Elsie hurts her (keeping her awake), but that her love for Elsie is what calms her down. Basically the nature and strength of the relationship.


Is 3rd person narrative, not 1st person.

First person is this:

It was a such stressful night and here I am just lying awake worrying. Focusing on Elsie usually calms me down and allows me to fall asleep. Damn, why doesn't it work tonight? My worry for that bitch Elsie hurts me keeping me awake, but my love for Elsie calms me down. Elsie. I can't lover her. I can't hate her. Damn it all! Basically the nature and strength of the relationship. Yeah, that's what Elsie is.


On that note, let's rewrite the dialogue into 3rd person, so you can see the difference.

"I'm worried we are doing too much, too fast," Sally said.

Does she really have to bring this up now? Betsy thought, yawing. I am so tired. Maybe if I pretend I didn't hear her...

"Hey, are you listening to me?"

"Yeah. I hear you."

"Well?"

"We’ll just take it one day at a time until we get to New York, and just hope that what they say is true. If not…"

"And?" She was getting upset over Betsy's not staying alert during such an important conversation.

"What?" Betsy jumped and looked around, wondering where she was. Sally's harsh reply jerked Betsy awake. How long have I been asleep?

"Are you even listening to me?"

Sally stamped her foot and crossed her arms, but Betsy didn't notice.

"Yeah," Betsy answered sleepily. "What do you want?"

Sally rolled her eyes hoping Betsy would take a hint, but Betsy had her eyes closed and didn't see Sally's over exaggerated fake frustration.

"You said 'If not'..." Sally whined.

"If not?" Betsy tried to recall what it was she had been saying, but sleep was clouding her mind. "If not... oh! I know. Then something else."

"Something else? What do you mean, something else?"

"We’ll think of something."

"Do you even know what you're saying?"

No. Betsy thought. I wasn't sure what I was saying. So tired. Way past my bed time. Why won't she just leave me alone and let me sleep already. Jese, you'd think she could take a hint.

"Just one day at a time just now," Betsy muttered feeling as if she was in a dream.

"Don't you dare give me that one more day crap, you know it's bull crap."

"Tomorrow we’ll go swimming..."

"What? Are you even listening to me?"

Sally was getting more and more pissed off at Betsy, but Betsy was too tired to notice.

"That'll be fun. Hmmmm. Swimming. I like swimming."

"What are you on about?" It was becoming all Sally could do to not punch Betsy right now.

"Elsie loves swimming too."

"Who's talking about Elsie. I was talking about us. Wake up you stupid dolt. You don't even know what you're saying."

"We used to swim... swim... in Califooooornia. He he."

"You're dreaming, you stupid 'git. You never lived in California."

"California..."

"Wake up!"

"Elsie used to squeal like a little girl in the water. Such a wuss…"

As you can see there is very little difference. Is and MEs become proper names, hes, and shes, and you get to add extra lines to further describe what the characters are doing.




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