1994. Such an innocent time. We thought flannel was cool and we were so jaded, man, with that whole life thing. Like Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites.
Also in 1994, a little picture called "Pulp Fiction" was released and, like radiation after a nuclear explosion, we are still living with its aftereffects. Don't get me wrong -- I like Pulp Fiction. But I personally believe we should quarantine every copy of Pulp Fiction until its damaging effects on aspiring writers have been successfully contained and eradicated. Then, scientists and social historians could apply for a special license to see Pulp Fiction, but only if they swore under oath that they would never, ever try and replicate Quentin Tarantino's witty/pop-culture laden/nonsensical dialogue.
I've been seeing a lot of dialogue like this lately:
"Dude, you're just like Trostsky."
"Like Trotsky. You know, Trotsky was this revolutionary guy. He was like this charismatic figure and he was way ahead of his time. He founded the Red Army."
"Isn't Trotsky Russian?"
"You're missing the point, man. Trotsky was this charismatic guy, but Josef Stalin got rid of him and he was exiled from the country. To Mexico."
"Do they have vodka in Mexico?"
"When he was in Mexico he was murdered with a motherfucking pickaxe. A motherfucking pickaxe! Can you believe that shit?"
"Do you know what they call a quarter pounder with cheese in Mexico?"
THIS IS NOT GOOD DIALOGUE.
I know, I know. It would be cool if Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta said it, but this type of dialogue has no place in a book.
Writing dialogue in a book is not like dialgoue in real life, and it is not like dialogue in a movie. Tarantinoism does not work. Banter, particularly the quick back and forth kind, almost never works in a book. Dialogue in a book needs to build toward something, and it needs to take place in a manner that furthers plot and character development. If two characters have a conversation just for the sake of being clever, it's, well, it's whatever the opposite of clever is.
So please, support my campaign to quarantine Pulp Fiction. Don't do it for me. Do it for the children.