I write bad guys infrequently, but I have written about writing them a couple times. A common situation I have not written not written about writing at all is dialogue with more than two people. This morning I explore archetypal third speakers.
These speaking roles just come to me as I write them. I’ve got no plan and make no assurances to the completeness or accuracy of the list.
Agreer – this is the ‘me too’ voice of the conversation. They serve no purpose in the conversation content but to reflect one of the two main speaker’s already made points. As repetitive as it may be for the conversation itself, for the story it can be useful in many ways. The third voice adds color to an otherwise factual conversation. Aping the material for laughs or for reducing the impact of those facts. Emphasizing the content by providing timely and wise reinforcement. Or simple staking the odds against the second speaker.
The agreer probably needs to be a secondary or tertiary character employed more as a foil than a main actor in the story. What symbolic role they represent will be how the first speaker’s words will be interpreted when the original speaker is unable to produce that effect on their own.
The Nag – Like the agreer but clearly devoted to a specific speaker. Essentially this role is an external conscience or simply a functionary of the plot. As functionary of the plot—”Be careful that plate is hot,” said the waitress—the content of their contributions holds less importance than the timing of their contributions. Over used these could become deus ex machina.
Interrupter – The first and second speaker attack each other directly from opposite sides of an argument, the Interrupter tries to disrupt the conversation. The intent of the third person may not be what they accomplish. Their attempts meant to cool an argument may heat it up by simply annoying one or both primary speakers. Alternately the Interrupter may help each primary speaker see the absurdity of the argument.
Distracter – This role parallels much of the interrupter’s effects but in the opposite manner. While the interrupter inserts points into the conversation trying to be part of the activity, the distracter pulls the two primaries away from the conversation toward a new target.
Well this will need polishing it may never get. Plus I’ve concocted but not created some images to go with each of these. I didn’t even get to the hole class of third voices that contribute equally to the conversation but from a fully formed and independent third perspective—probably because I think those are the hardest to write.