I stumbled across a review the other day where the reviewer lamented the preponderance of dialogue in a book. Then the reviewer went on to say that writing a dialogue heavy book made it a simplistic book, an easy read, a lazy effort, an uncomplicated plotline because everyone knows it's the character's inner monologue and descriptions of setting and scene which truly makes a book -- and the characters -- come alive through description, not action.
My first thought was WTF? My second thought (well, besides SCREW YOU because this review was aimed at my alter-ego's latest effort, and she was the only reviewer who picked at something every other reviewer applauded) was how sad that this reviewer preferred purple prose to actual prose.
I think dialogue is incredibly hard to write -- and very hard to write well. Trying to make it read like a conversation, not an info dump, not loading it with tons of dialogue tags which add weight but no meaning, making it a scene that leads to action or carries action. Or using it as an external reveal for the character speaking to make his or her thoughts a public, rather than a private realization, to the reader and the other characters in the scene is difficult to pull off not just once, but throughout the whole of the book. Yes, all the balance of the rest of those elements -- setting, scene, action, internal and external conflict -- make a good book, but kick ass dialogue makes a good book a great one.
Creating believable dialogue is not easy by any stretch of the imagination; I know I'm not the only author who strives for authenticity in on page conversations. When dialogue flows, is easy to read and understand, is funny, revealing, poignant, and devastating all in one single sentence, it is exactly the opposite of lazy: it can be sheer poetry.
Do you think the whole 'showing versus telling' school of thought means description, not action, not verbal interplay? Besides Elmore Leonard, King of Dialogue aside, who do you think excels at dialogue in any genre, not just crime fiction?