Have you ever had an argument where you knew the other person said something, and they insisted they'd said something completely different?
I've heard about these, but of course, it's never happened to me... well, maybe once.
Perspective is a funny thing. According to Quantum Physics, perception equals reality, or rather, the act of witnessing something actually makes it exist. That's a simplistic explanation because I have only a simplistic understanding of Quantum Physics, but I get the gist of it.
Hey, I don't write hard S/F.
So according to the above, what happens if we both perceive the same thing, and our perspectives are completely different? Do both realities exist? Are my husband and I BOTH right all the time? God, I hope not, cause I've got some serious apologizing to do it we are.
If I hear him say he'll take the garbage out now, and he remembers saying he'll take it out in the morning, do we both have a legitimate reason to feel self-righteous? These are the big questions that science is working on, as we speak....right?
The fact is, this is not a rare phenomenon, is it? In our daily communications, how often do you think we get our points across effectively? How often do we listen carefully enough to hear exactly what the other person is saying, and even more rarely, pay enough attention to get what they mean?
So when we write dialogue...(See, I'll get around to the topic eventually) should our characters not also suffer from this lack of focus? Misunderstandings, after all, are a great plot device...just ask Shakespeare. Can we retain clarity for the reader and still keep our characters in the fog? I hope so.
I wrote a scene the other night that was primarily dialogue between my protagonist and a secondary character. The two are reminiscing and discussing their current situations, and through the entire conversation, they think they are on the same subject, but are actually talking about two completely different things. Both are wrapped up in their own concerns and assume that the other is following their train of thought. This never happens in real life, I'm sure, but this is fiction after all.
It was a really fun scene to write. I didn't plan for it to go that way, but the characters made it easy for me and the result will be (god willing) some great new complications. I get excited when this sort of thing happens. I remember why I love to write. I know, I know, your characters are not supposed to take over...But, just now and then, it might be a good idea to give them a loose rein and see what they try. I'm certainly not above letting them do some of the work from time to time.
Will the scene work for the reader? Who knows. Only time can make that decision, and it has a different perspective then all of us put together. I'm happy with it, I had a good time writing it, and I'm pretty sure it will survive at least the first round of edits. But then, I was certain he said he'd take that trash out right away...