Flirtation is not always verbalized conversation. If you take a listen to the people around you, depending on the time and place, the way we communicate varies greatly. Conversations, regardless of outside factors, are generally hard to follow. Don’t believe me? Take a trip to any local coffee shop and just people watch for a little bit. Listen to the conversations of the people around you. These conversations don’t really give us any subtle insight to the mind or lives of the speakers. Normally, this is because we all have very different ways of speaking and expressing the things we really want to get out. We waste words by using terms such as “Um”, “Uhh” and “like”. Body language fills the gaps in our sentences, keeping the noise-to-movement ratio steady enough for the other person to follow. Funny thing is, we don’t realize that were doing it. Our bodies move without any conscious thought, driving the conversation with silent understanding. Acting on your flirtatious desired can be very exciting! Every chance we get can be enticing, teasing and provocative. Flirting is about drawing someone deeper: into our heart, our head and most likely-our pants. Sometimes we flirt just to tempt another person, entertaining ourselves with the fact that we CAN do it despite any other reasons. There is always a functional reason and emotional reason to flirting. The functional level would be what’s on the surface: What you’re talking about at that moment, but it’s obvious that it’s not all about what’s on your plate at the moment. There is more of an underlying meaning to it. The functional level of dialogue is when information is exchanged and decisions are required in order to move the plot forward or lay out another means of doing so at another time. Below that functional level, we want to draw them in, heighten the underlying tension, and make them care deeply about the characters involved. Every Word Countswhen I’m being flirtatious, I feel like every sentence, every word I let leave my lips, made the other person read into me more. It’s not because my every word was gold, because they most definitely aren’t. It’s because everything I said was just enough and not too much to accomplish my functional and emotional goals. For example, if your character was going to ask someone to join them for dinner, you wouldn’t give them a long, dramatic speech because the chances of that coming out as believable are very slim. Your character is most likely to be greeted by a sprits of pepper spray to the face, than a hand to escort to the table. On the same note, you would want to holler out “WANNA GO TO DINNER!?” to someone either, even if they are a close friend. It’s the complete opposite of the multi-paragraph request, but it is just as likely to get a spray to the face. In this instance, you want to give the reader (or your partner in this case) the desire to want more- more conversation and detail into the mind of your own character. The more experiences they want to share with you, the better and closer you are to your functional and emotional goals. Make Every Word Clear Clarity’s another important factor. When flirting, if every other sentence is “What? What did you say? I don’t understand…” odds are it’ll be quite a turn off. We want our readers to instantly understand the surface level of dialogue so that they can internalize the underlying emotional level. Take a look at this: DIRECT “What would you like to do tonight?” John asked. “I want to eat a garden salad, have two glasses of red wine, and engage in coitus with you,” Jane said. OBLIQUE “What would you like to do tonight?” John asked. “A little of this, a little of that,” Jane said. The first is painfully direct and clinical. It leaves nothing to either John’s or the reader’s imagination. The second does not – in fact – answer John’s question. It leaves the entire answer to the imagination. The entire experience – and its emotional significance – is left for our reader to find between the lines. In some cases, the direct approach is smart. Used in counterpoint to oblique dialog, it can be used to drive the point home. Consider a slightly modified direct approach: DIRECT “What would you like to do tonight?” John asked. “Have sex,” Jane said. Here, the frank approach to the underlying subject matter stands out against more oblique dialogue. If every exchange read like this one, the book would turn monotone. And if every exchange were perfectly oblique, the book would be abstruse. When focusing on principal characters and particularly meaningful scenes, I try to go beyond the merely functional and lean towards obliquity. But with judicious application, a little directness adds extra spice. Blending Prose and Dialogue Just about any good teacher will tell you to avoid active reporting clauses (he said/she said). It’s still like flirting. If someone were trying to flirt with us and they screamed every statement, growled every question, and sighed every punctuation mark, odds are we’d remember a pressing engagement elsewhere pretty quickly (unless both people involved are angsty teenagers, in which case they might not even notice). But that does not mean we’re limited to the factual he said/she said. We can also play with placement. Consider our earlier oblique passage. What would happen if we moved the reporting clause elsewhere in the second sentence? ORIGINAL OBLIQUE "What would you like to do tonight?” John asked. “A little of this, a little of that,” Jane said. MODIFIED OBLIQUE “What would you like to do tonight?” John asked. “A little of this,” Jane said, “a little of that.” Moving the reporting clause to the middle of the sentence introduces a beat that the reader won’t even consciously notice. Instead, they’ll pause for a half-second as they read it and fill that pause with meaning. Maybe they’ll picture Jane winking, or giving a mischievous little smile. We can also substitute actions for the reporting clauses, though this may be a slippery slope. Consider: ORIGINAL OBLIQUE “What would you like to do tonight?” John asked. “A little of this, a little of that,” Jane said. MODIFIED OBLIQUE “What would you like to do tonight?” John asked. “A little of this,” Jane said, “a little of that.” ACTIVE OBLIQUE “What would you like to do tonight?” John asked. Jane took his hand. “A little of this, a little of that.” ACTIVE DIRECT “What would you like to do tonight?” John asked. Jane took his hand. “Have sex.” By prefacing Jane’s statement with a simple action, we can help put it in context. It’s like a marker guiding the reader to the conclusion we want them to reach. This should be used sparingly however, because it can otherwise lead to problems.