This is chapter one of my third novel. I'm trying to develop character and story through dialogue. I'd appreciate comments and advice.
I really enjoyed this as it drip-feeds new information from start to finish, kind of turning up the tension a little as you go through. There's a back story that I don't know — and I like that because I get just flickers dropped in, but at the same time I know that backstory will have a huge effect on what is clearly about to happen.
I have been a playwright a lot longer than novel writing, so dialogue is my thing. I think generally the dialogue is ok, but I would recommend you go over the phrasing and think about the "voices." As I was reading the text there were a lot of streams of dialogue without any description. That is how I write scripts — but I write scripts like that because I know an ACTOR will be filling in the gaps. You won't get the extra stage of the actor filling in the gaps, so there are moments that need more of a picture than a verbal reply. For example:
‘She hasn’t had my troubles,’ she said.
‘I’m so sorry. Was it someone close?’
‘I wouldn’t be going if it wasn’t.’ It was a stupid question, and although meant in the kindest of ways, she couldn't help her face looking patronised by the insincerity.
‘Yes, yes indeed.’
‘Closer to my sister than me. That’s why I’ve got to go. She needs me.’
‘Families have to stick close at times like this. I hope everything is alright for you.’
‘Yeah.’ It was like listening to text book dribbling replies that all came under the category of "appropriate" or "fitting". She just wanted to get in the car and leave.
‘We’ll miss the children.’ She smiled The smile was a white toothed, pink mouthed smile.
That's only one example. But when it comes to the mother, might be that even though it is written in the 3rd person, some of her speech is written as if it happens in her mind, allowing the narrator to embellish it, and delve into the character's feelings about the response.
Similarly, when talking to her BF/Husband
‘Do you think we’ll be safe?’
He tried to soften his voice, to reassure. ‘They’ve never bothered you yet. No reason to start now.’
‘Yeah, I suppose.’ She knew that was a flawed logic, and she was pretty certain he did, too. They hadn't bothered before because they'd had no reason to: were they going to be given one now?
‘A few days away will be good, though,' he said, trying to lighten the tone. But he paused a moment too long. 'Just to be sure.’
But that was it. Neither of them was sure.
Just by taking out one or two of her spoken lines in the dialogue you can indicate more of the pace of the dialogue, much like a director of a play would do so. That allows for a different "sound" to each character's voice. It also separates the two characters: he uses words all the time, almost over-talking, whereas she uses silence to communicate much more.
I also have a bias against empty dialogue like "Yeah" which communicates nothing unless accompanied by a description of tone or the subtext that it carries.
Anyway, just a few ponderings to play with — it really is sound like a fascinating little story is hiding there that I would read on to find out more of the "why".