The novelist James Jones on his fear of evading problems in his stories:
Dialogue is almost too easy. For me. So much so that it makes me suspicious of it, so I have to be careful with it. I could find myself evading problems of true expression because dialogue’s so easy for me to do. There are many important issues and points of subtlety about people, about human behavior, that I want to make in writing, and it’s easy to evade these—or do them superficially, do them halfway—by simply writing good dialogue. And it becomes increasingly easy as I get to know the people better. But good dialogue just isn’t enough to explain the subtler ramifications of the characters and incidents that I’m trying to work out now. Not realistic dialogue, anyway. Perhaps if you used some kind of surrealistic dialogue, but then it would read like a dream episode. It wouldn’t be real talk. For instance, it’s obvious enough that in almost any conversation things are happening to the people in the conversation that they do not and cannot express. In a play it is possible for a good actor to imply that he is thinking something other than what he is saying. But it’s pretty slipshod and half-assed, because he cannot convey what he’s thinking explicitly. In prose, and especially in the novel form, this can be done. If the man is using a subterfuge, it can be explained explicitly, and why. Actually, in life, conversation is more often likely to be an attempt at deliberate evasion, deliberate confusion, rather than communication. We’re all cheats and liars, really. And the novelist can show just how and why we are.
(via The Paris Review.)