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Week 3 Prompt - It's All in the Dialogue

11 Years Ago

Alright, a new prompt. This one's rather intriguing, so I hope you enjoy it. 

Dialogue is one of the most powerful literary devices available to us. The way in which people speak defines various cultures and eras much better than almost anything else. It also helps drive a story by making the action take place now, removing some of the exposition and replacing it with some old-fashioned characterization. The way a character speaks gives him, well, character. If there's a phrase a character loves using ("Stupid freshman" and "Yeah bacon" come to mind), it colors them in our mind much more than stagnant descriptions. Dialogue is powerful. 

So here's your prompt: write a story starting with dialogue only. It will work best if it's just between two people. 

Do not do this:
She asked him if he wanted the park.
He told her he had to work that night. 
This. Is. Not. Dialogue. This is exposition, and this gets really, really boring, really, really fast. 

DO do this:
"Hey, Mark! Do you want to come to the park with me later today?"
"Sorry, Karen, I can't. I've got to work double shifts today."

After your done, go back and add some action here and there, but only where needed. The easiest way to do this is to have your scenario be something where a lot of the action isn't really seen. For example: a phone call, a text or instant messaging conversation, or something like it. That way, you only have to tell the action of one person, and then only if you want to. Texts and IM's work pretty good standing alone, although you might want to add some action to clarify here and there. Phone calls are a little more intriguing for me, because not only can you hear the inflections in people's voices, you can hear a little of what's going on on the other end. Pauses in the conversation become deliciously awkward silence, and it's a lot easier to the character on the other line a little more character this way. 

Now, you don't have to use a phone call or a digital conversation. Those were just suggestions. You can have two people talking in person if you want. However, there are a few rules about dialogue that you have to abide by no matter what. 

1) Every new dialogue line gets a new paragraph. You should all know this by now, but in case you'd forgotten. Not only does this make for good organization, it makes things easier to read. It's like instant messaging or texting- two people can't talk at the same time. One person, than the other, than the first, and so on. Everybody takes a turn. 

2) Beyond just the dialogue, every new action requires a new line. If Johny is talking, don't have Sue chewing her fingernails in the middle of his paragraph. This is how it should look:
"Hi, Sue."
Sue chewed her fingernails, not wanting to look him in the eye. 
"How are you today?"

NOT this:
"Hi, Sue." Sue chewed her fingernails, not wanting to look him in the eye. "How are you today?"


If you have any questions, feel free to put them down below or ask me in person. Have fun with this one!


Re: Week 3 Prompt - It's All in the Dialogue

11 Years Ago

Awww Vass D can't help but think that you were thinking of me when you wrote this.... YAY BACON