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I'm writing a dialogue heavy scene. The protagonist has met with a group of mercenaries that he spent a great deal of his younger days with. He doesn't come to them for a catch-up however, he has ulterior motives for the meet.

The protagonist is sat at a table with his three old friends. He's filling them in on a prior event (one that happened away from the pages of the book).

Here's my question...

As the protagonist is doing 70-80% of the talking, how to I involve the user enough so that they don't forget about the other characters? For example, the protagonist directs a question at Person A, and they riff on this question a little together. How do I involve Person B and C enough in this part so that they don't disappear from thought?

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up vote 6 down vote accepted

Stage business. B takes a drink. C eats something. B lounges back in his chair, looking thoughtful as he listens. C winks at the serving guy. B rolls his eyes at something the protagonist said, and C smacks his arm to make him stop. B plays with a coin, a ring, a belt loop. C starts polishing her knives.

Imagine that you're watching the scene in a movie. The other two are still there, still moving and reacting and doing stuff. Write that down.

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Smart remarks and sarcasm. and given that this is military recruitment trite maxims are great.

"... and Then the king -"

"fell flat on his face," B interrupted.

"no, no, no that only happens when some one important is watching," said C.

P tried to get things back on track, "proclaimed that the princess -"

"is as ugly as the frog she married," interrupted C.

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