I wrote the dialogue for the opening scene today-- two pages worth. That's another Weekend Novelist scene-building trick: once you have a good sense of what needs to happen in the scene, you write just the dialogue; nothing but two voices speaking back and forth on the page. Then you build the scene around it. My first draft dialogue tends to be just dreadful, but for this scene at least, writing the dialogue in a kind of vacuum really helped. I still need to let what I wrote cool a bit, and then read it out loud to make sure it plays right, but I'm pretty happy with what I got.
I'm also excited to find that despite the detailed planning I've done for this novel, I am still discovering more about it as I write. I just found out that Irsa's father has a cleft lip and a serious speech defect, and that that's why he's so stoic and taciturn. Who knew?