Sunday, October 11, 2015

Writing Prompt: The Skill Builder: Crafting Unique Dialogue

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

This week’s prompt focuses on an exercise designed to work on a particular skill or technique, such as a POV exercise or character builder. Today’s skill: Dialogue.

Turn the below description into a scene using mostly dialogue to differentiate the speakers. You may use tags and limited stage direction, but try to use more dialog than narrative, and make the individual voices specific to the characters.

Three people are discussing an upcoming event. One person is nervous about it, another is excited about it, and the third person wished they didn’t have to attend. Use three different ages for the characters (one young, one middle-aged, one elderly) and a mix of genders. Set the scene in an outdoor setting. All other details are up to you.

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  1. Like this?
    “Why can’t we go in a taxi, daddy? I don’t want my new dress to get dirty on the subway.”

    “We’re not taking a taxi. It’s a waste of money when the train is right there. It’s a fun way to get the experience of being in the city. Don’t whine; I’ll hold your hand.”

    “Well, I don’t care how we get there but you two are walking too fast for my tired old legs. You should have left me at home in my comfortable apartment like I asked you to.”

  2. “I know, I got here early and got the tickets.” the phone crackled. “Do you have me on speaker?”
    “Yes. Dadad is here too.”
    “Grandma, are you driving?”
    “No, hon. Your dad is. We're just pulling in.”
    “I see you.” The phone went dead with a chirpy electronic tone.
    Minutes later, after helping Dadad out of the car, they boarded the tram to the park. He asked them, for the fifth time. “Where are we going?”
    “To the Fair.” She addressed her son first and then her granddaughter, “He's okay so far, but if he gets lost or jumpy we'll have to give him a sedative and put him in a wheelchair.”
    “Will that work?”
    “He can't remember as much as before, but, with the anxiety pills, he's less jumpy. So, I think so.”
    “Well,” she was interrupted by the roar of the maglev passing through the tunnel, “you still let him drive...”
    “I can drive just fine. I just need to know where.”
    “Yeah. It's fine. You drive fine.”
    “I'd rather watch the game.”
    “It's not on 'til one.”
    “We won't make it back in time,” He looked out the window, “I'm sure.”

  3. Grandma smiled. "Are the two of you as excited for the wedding as I am?"

    I swiped a bug off the picnic blanket. "Nope"

    "Why not sweetie?"

    I sighed. "Because... Miguel got tickets to see my favorite band."

    "Oh Karsten' you can see your band play another time." she looked at Mom. "Right Jody?"

    Mom shrugged. "I guess he can." She glanced to the side.

    "What's wrong Jody?"

    "Mom, you know I can't dance."

    "And that's exactly why I've been teaching you."

    "Have you seen any improvement?"

    Grandma bit her lip. "I told you to take those dance classes when you were a girl-"

    "Mom, please don't bring that up again!"

    I chuckled.