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Writing Exercise: Dialogue


Hey, all. If you weren’t watching twitter/facebook, I recently suggested a group writing exercise. I’m reposting here for those who watch only the blog. The next paragraphs have the earlier posts, as I originally wrote them.

You guys want to do a writing exercise together? I’ve been wanting to do some dialogue practice. We could each do five pages on a theme, and I could post my five for you to see, then look at some of the better ones on Writing Excuses and talk over strengths/weaknesses.

Write a five- to ten-page two-character dialogue with no tags or blocking. Try to evoke character, conflict, and plot using only dialogue. Include: a problem, two distinct individuals, a fantasy/sf element. Avoid: long monologues, exposition. Use context, not explanations.

Terry Bisson did a great job with this sort of thing in his short story “They’re Made Out of Meat.” (Read it now, if you haven’t before. It’s a quick read.) And here’s another excellent example, from Josh Vogt. No prose. No “He said.” No “He walked to the door.” Just dialogue.

(End of the original posts.)

So, anyway, five to ten pages is just a suggestion—about a thousand words or so— but you don’t have to make yours any particular length. It can be a short short, standing on its own, or it can be a short story. Or it can be the start of a novel, or just an excerpt of dialogue from an ordinary story. Basically, this doesn’t need to be a complete story. The goal is to see how much you can get across without exposition and with a fast-moving dialogue.

I’ll post mine Monday, so that’s a good deadline. Then later, we’ll look at some of them on an episode of Writing Excuses. We won’t have time to get to all of them. But, as the Time-Waster’s Guide forums are back online, we can post all of them there and give each other feedback. Or you can post on your own blog and post a link on the forum. Or you can just send it to me via email.


|   Castellano