I headed off to college as a theater major destined for the bright lights of L.A. I'd spent Saturdays in high school getting up at 4 am to drive into Dallas (the nearest city) for acting classes, spend the day there then be home in time for my fast food job to pay for the acting classes and the home school I attended for a flexible schedule. One day I just lost the spark. It died. Theater was becoming a pointless waste of time. Unfortuantely, this realization only came to me after the drop date. If I dropped my theater classes, I would lose my financial aid and not fiinish school, so I persevered through 15 hours of more acting classes, four labs, and three part time jobs.
I sat with my script and (because it was graded) wrote a motivation for each line of dialogue my character stated through the entire act. With news of more deaths in Iraq subtly playing from a 12 inch TV in the background, the pointlessness of this seemed even more pervasive.
The semester ended and I got on with my life, kicking myself for so many wasted years. Then a few days ago, I glanced at pages from my manuscript ready to throw it. Not because I don't like the story. I love it, but because the pink in the margins says, "This dialogue goes on forever." Or, "This is completely unrealistic." Or "I'm not sure I buy this." And then the ultimate question "WHY???"
AHA! And with that singular one word question a stroke of genius hits me. Why, that's all that matters. I'm holding four months of work in my hand ready to throw it, but it doesn't need to be tossed, just answered. Why? I'm instantly connected to my meaningless past. If I know why my characters are saying what they are, it's not really bad dialogue. If I don't know the motivation, or there isn't one, obviously it needs to be changed. It works just as well for characters I dream as characters I played. In an epiphany, I understand that incidents aren't isolated but interconnected. Things happen for a reason. The world is round.