Seven Deadly Dialogue Sins

The Snark Zone
Stephanie “Baker” Lenz & Amanda “The Bellman” Marlowe

Baker & The Bellman demonstrate how not to write dialogue.

Happily, she smiled, “Ooo la la, Ereeek, zee zewers of gay Paree, weeth zee sewage and zee high breek walls, smeell mahvelous in zee zummer heat just zo long as tu, mon chere, are weeth me!”

Miserably, he grumbled, “Easy for you to say, Christine Daae, my secret soprano pupil. You’re not holed up under the Paris Opera, season after season, listening to the same Wagnerian German arias while the damp water drips down the stony masonry walls. I have to take a gondola boat ride just to get to the loo. And it’s a labryinthal maze down here in the basement, under the building, where I live.”

Jealously, she seethed, “Ereek! Can it be that you love zee opera house, wheech is older zan my grandmere, more than you love me?”

He worried anxiously, “I think I’m dying of some fatal disease. I’ll wake up some early morning and all at once I’ll die. Your dead grandmother died all at once, didn’t she? Oh, I know I have that disease. You know, the lung disease miners get where their lungs turn sooty, ashy, coal, raven, ebony. Cough, cough. Almost blackish. What’s that called?”

Lustfully, she recalled, “As you know, Ereek, zat is de dreadful black lung deseeze. My pauvre grandmere, at zee old age of eighty three, died of zee black lung dezeeze all of a once just az zee doctor arrived. Zee doctor… zo young, zo handsome… Zee eyes, zee arms, so strong… How zey consoled me in my sorrow… Zee kisses…”

Hopelessly, he sighed, “The babes don’t dig organ players anymore. They all lust after pulminologists and lung doctors. Of course organs, lungs… oh never mind. No one will ever love me. Ever since work began here on the Opera house in the summer of 1861, I have known that I shall be unloved and forlorn all my miserable days.”

Irritated, she burned, “Ereek! Pleeze, mon chere, I did not come down here to zee zewers to hear you whine. I can hear you whine all zee time upstairs. Through the four black and gold leather-covered walls while we are waiting in zee dressing room. I came here because you promised me you would help wit zee zinging voice. I do not want to be zee chorus girl forever. Degas, he wanted to do zee sketch of me, but I stay for you.”

Uncertainly, he wondered, “I whine? I don’t think I whine. Do I? Who’s this Degas fellow? Is he that viscount who’s always running about after you? Maybe I’ll have to deal with him. Or maybe I should invite him down for Sunday brunch this Sunday around 11 a.m. I’ll make mimosas. As you know, Christine, mimosas are champagne and orange juice beverages what are traditionally served to drink at brunch. What if he doesn’t like mimosas?”

Courageously, she declared, “Ereek, I do not think zee famous painter Degas will come to zee brunch on zee Sunday at 11 a.m. But enough of zee chitchat. I want to view zee face of mon chere. I am zee strong woman, zee corahgeous one to follow into zee zewers. Zee zewers, as you know my chere Ereek, are damp and stinkee. It is great courahge to stay with zee smell of zee refuse from zee city. Reward my courahge and remove from you zee masque.”

Sarcastically, he gibed, “You’re no bed of roses either, you Parisian floozy.”

Pettily, she trivialized, “If you do not remove zee masque, I shall emit zee scream and bring zee polize to find you.”

Regretfully, he lamented, “I could have been a celestial star. I could have been somebody. But I told my voice teacher I would hang him from the grand chandelier if the mood struck me. And it struck me. If only I hadn’t lost my temper, if only I hadn’t gone off track, if only I hadn’t gone above, to the surface, without my sunblock. Ah, the streets of Paris. So much to see, so much to do. That’s where I got this kicky beret. I had “Erik” stitched on it by a streetwalking prostitute. Ah! Paris. I saw the Bois de Boulogne, the Tuilleries, the Champ de Mars. Of course I visited Notre Dame, on the Île de la Cité. As you know Christine, it was begun in 1163 and is the main tourist attraction here in Paris. I also visited The Arc de Triomphe, the Place de l’Étoile, the Rue de Rivoli, Rue de la Paix, Rue de Faubourg-Saint Honoré, Avenue de l’Opéra, Boulevard des Italiens, Boulevard du Montparnasse, and the Champs Élysées. Then it was back to the Place de l’Opera and home sweet sewer.”

With wonder, she mused, “Oh Ereek, you bring back zee memories of when I first came to zee gay Paree from zee native shores of my homeland. Zee Cathedral of Notre Dame, zee hideeous gargoyles so beootiful in zee moonlight, and my heart, she sing to zee heavens.”

Curiously, he queried, “You’re not Parisian? You had me fooled. And I thought you were such a big Jerry Lewis fan. What is that accent supposed to be then? You sound like Pepe LePew, the famous Warner Brothers character French skunk with the overdone fake French accent.”

She sneered smugly, “LePew, LeShmue, what care I for zee famous French Skunks? I am zee soprano, zee diamond in zee rough. I am to have zee vibratto, zee agitatto, zee allegro non tropo…”

He raged angrily, “Diamond in the rough? Hey, you little French Fry you, I made you what you are. You might be able to lead a gift horse to water, but you can’t look it in the mouth! You ingrate! How dare you call yourself a diamond! You’re a cubic zirconia if I ever saw one. Why don’t you get that Degas guy to give you singing lessons, huh? If I don’t hang him from the lead crystal grand chandelier first!”

She whispered passionately, “Ereek, Ereek, mon chere, zee whole world I owe you, zee voice, zee job. I forget not zee tender moments down here in zee romantic black shadowed zewers, where Jean Valjean once rescued zee young Marius. I live for zee tender moments in zee flickering of zee flaming torchlight with you, mon chere. I keess your shadow…”

Lovingly, he revealed, “Oh Christine, I dream at night about your flaxen hair, your flashing azure eyes, your heaving bosom, your peaches and cream complexion. My heart skips a beat when I hear your angelic voice. Like the caged pet canary bird who sings only for me and me alone. Alas, I am too hideous for you to ever love me. But I love you so, I must be willing to let you go.”

She wailed longingly, “Ereeek, Ereeek, I weesh I must not return me to zee sunlight and zee fresh air, and zee tedious Raoul, Viscomte de Chagny, who holds the titles to the ancestral family lands of Provence, France, and who weeshes to marry me. But alas, mon chere, I must. I scream for ze polize now. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeek!”

He sighed despondently, “Oh well. With my luck, someone will make a highly successful musical about our star-crossed love. After all, look what happened to Jean Valjean.”


Baker, our fountain of useless knowledge, hosts Maxim Tremendous, Antediluvian Tone and Ink in Unfailing Supply, and can be reached at baker[at] The Bellman, our tech support whiz, hosts Damage from Hail and Boojum Tales, and can be reached at bellman[at]

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