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Friday, October 1, 2010

Friday Writing Challenge!

I've had a lot of great responses, both on the blog and via email, to this week's musings on dialogue, so I'll probably keep pushing the discussion to next week, especially I have some questions to answer (see Pam Harris's excellent question about equilibrium in response to my last post, He Said/She Said Helpful Hints.

This challenge was partly inspired by Ellie H., a 14-year-old writer (notice I do not say "aspiring writer"--you either ARE writing or you AREN'T, peeps!) who emailed me recently after reading Before I Fall, and who asked me very nicely to keep up with the challenges.

So, this week's challenge runs thusly. I am going to write out some lines of dialogue, below. I will NOT specify anything about the characters who are conversing--I won't even specify sexes. That's up to you. Your job, in fact, is to flesh out the dialogue by making choices about the interlocutors, and by adding physicality and dimension to the scene.

Make sense? You can make the characters a stepmother and a daughter, or two best friends, or two ex best friends, or two exes, or a brother and a sister who haven't seen each other in a while, or whatever the heck you want. But we must see them, and we must see them in the CONTEXT of the dialogue. In other words, don't just describe them, and then have them speak. Their physical descriptions and interactions should be interwoven WITH the dialogue.

Sound difficult? That's why it's a CHALLENGE, people! :)

Okay, here's the dialogue for you to play with:

"Oh! Hi. God, you scared me."
"No, that's fine. I just wasn't..."
"I just wasn't expecting anyone, that's all."
"I ran into Caitlin recently. She said you were working here."
"Yeah. Three times a week."
"You like it?"
"It's a job. Money's not bad."
"You look good."
"Is that weird to say?"
"No. No--you look good, too. Did you cut your hair?"

Okay...go forth and write!!


Rita said...

Ok, I'm new here. So how does that work? I gotta describe the characters, the scenario and their relationship? Do I need to give a beginning and an end?

william said...

So I’m looking in the mirror and suddenly she’s there so of course so I say, "Hi." and as usual she says "Oh! Hi. God, you scared me" because she’s always been the scary one so I say "Sorry" and she says, "No, that's fine. I just wasn't..." so I turn and check the hemline and try to forget she’s there but she still is so I say "What?" and she gets all snarky and says "I just wasn't expecting anyone, that's all " like she didn’t know I was trying on the dress today so I say "I ran into Caitlin recently she said you were working here" like she would know who Caitlin is because I know she doesn’t but she says "Yeah. Three times a week" as if she does so I ask "You like it?" and she says "It's a job. Money's not bad." as if she has any use for money because I’m the one who pays the bills but I just say "You look good" and she says "Thanks" and then she asks "Is that weird to say?" and I don’t know what to say so I just say "No. No--you look good, too. Did you cut your hair?"

Elena said...

“Hi." said Trevor

"Oh! Hi. God, you scared me." replied Lilli, whirling around from behind the stack of books she was putting back on the overstocked library shelves. She was uneasy to see Trevor so soon after they had just broken up. Things were still tense, and she could tell Trevor was devising some plan to try and win her back.

"Sorry." He said, looking nervous. He’d hoped he would’ve gotten a more welcoming response from her.
“No, that’s fine,” Lilli said quickly, “I just wasn't..."

"What?" Trevor eyed her suspiciously.

"I just wasn't expecting anyone, that's all."
Trevor was relieved, in a way. He was afraid she was going to tell him to get lost again.
"I ran into Caitlin recently. She said you were working here."

"Yeah. Three times a week."Lilli said coldly, cursing at her sister under her breath. Caitlin knew Lilli was trying to avoid Trevor at all costs, especially now.

"You like it?"

"It's a job. Money's not bad." Lilli could tell Trevor wasn’t getting the hint in her tone that she wanted him to go away.

"You look good."

"Thanks." Lilli said, nervous. Couldn’t Trevor just leave her alone?

"Is that weird to say?" he asked.
‘Yes’, thought Lilli. She didn’t know how to tell him to back off in a nice way. He didn’t really know how to take a hint did he?

"No”, Lilli lied, ”No--you look good, too. Did you cut your hair?" she asked awkwardly.

cathy jo said...

"Oh! Hi. God, you scared me," as my hand flies to my chest to make sure my heart doesn’t jump out. Ugh. I’ve waited forever for this moment to see him and the words are already sticking to the back of my throat. Somehow I didn’t hear the barn door creak when he came in.
"No, that's fine. I just wasn't..." The words to finish escape me as I’m blushing to my toes. I knew I should have washed my hair this morning. I backhandedly tip the brim of my hat back a bit, but not enough for him to see my dirty hair. My face grows hotter still; I have to look away. The animal and ammonia fumes hang heavy in the air between us. Oh please don’t notice…
"I just wasn't expecting anyone, that's all." I stammer. Horse barns are the last place you expect to see something as beautiful as Chad McKenzie. My hand swipes at my damp forehead and try to look cool when I’m a million degrees centigrade inside and rising. I casually look towards the door, hoping someone, anyone, will walk in and save me from this. I am bound to say or do something stupid in front of him. And I look like crap. I don’t even want to think what I smell like.
"I ran into Caitlin recently. She said you were working here." I glance at him, with his hands jammed deep into the front pockets of his jeans, tipping back on the heels of his dusty cowboy boots. He is 18, two years older than me, and the hottest boy this side of Austin. Caitlin wouldn’t tell him where I was working. She would have lied to keep him to herself. Any girl would have. So why is he lying to me?
"Yeah. Three times a week." I lie back. I look over at Anna Belle, her dark eyes curious; she tosses her head, begging for a scratch. I reach out and touch her soft nose while she softly knickers in return. I look back at him, wondering why he is here. In the barn. With me.
"You like it?" he asks. His eyes sparkle like the deep blue sea.
"It's a job. Money's not bad." He ponders my answer a moment as he gazes around the stalls at the tack, saddles and buckets in the back until his eyes land back on mine.
"You look good." I gulp. Hard. Does he mean it? Or is he lying again?
"Thanks." I say awkwardly, looking down at my own dusty boots. My jeans are covered with dirt and bits of hay. I must smell like the back of my Daddy’s old pick up truck.
"Is that weird to say?" I look up again as a small smile begins to tug at the corner of his mouth and it makes the blood rush to my head again. Lordy, I think I will pass out. My mouth forms the words, "No. No--you look good, too. Did you cut your hair?" I feel like an idiot.

Carla said...

I'm stood by the lake. The water is velvety green, shimmering in the darkness. I pick up a stray golf ball and throw it into the water. It drops to the bottom with a dull thud.
"Hi." comes a voice from behind me. A voice I would recognise anywhere. I whirl, heart thumping painfully in my chest.
"Oh! Hi. God, you scared me." I say. Because he did.
"Sorry." he says. He doesn't look at me, he looks at the water. I wonder if he see's the same as me. The cold desolateness of the lake. All that water threatening to take your breath and pull you under. He probably doesn't.
I stare at him until his gaze flicks to my face.
"No, thats fine. I just wasn't…" I trail off and stare back at the water. Better the water than the questions I can see in his eyes.
"What?" he says, moving closer.
"I just wasn't expecting anyone, that's all." I say. The Golf Club closed half an hour ago. I'm not even supposed to be here.
"I ran into Caitlin recently. She said you were working here." he takes another step towards me. He's so close I can see the green flecks in his eyes, smell the cologne clinging to his shirt.
"Yeah. Three times a week." I say. I want to reach out and trace my fingers over his mouth. Feel his hot breath on my fingers.
"You like it?" he whispers.
"it's a job. Money's not bad." I shrug. All I can see and hear is him. It's torture.
"You look good." he breathes.
"Thanks" it comes out shaky, hesitant. I can't do this again.
"Is that weird to say?" he reaches for me, lets his fingers slide down my bare arm and stops with his hand encircling my wrist. I shake shake shake him off until his hand drops to his side, then let myself walk away from him.
"No. No-you look good, too. Did you cut your hair?" I say it over my shoulder. I don't wait for an answer. I walk away and leave him stood alone in the moonlight. Just like he left me.

Unknown said...

"Hi," Alice said finally, staring at Luke with wide, hopeful eyes.
"Oh! Hi. God, you scared me." Luke breathed, surprised to see her so... Not sad.
"Sorry," Alice apologized.
"No, that's fine. I just wasn't..." Luke trailed off, wondering if she knew about what was happening the other night, in the room right next to hers.
"What?" Alice asked anxiously. The two had drifted apart ever since Luke met Alice's family, and all Alice wanted was to set things back on track.
"I just wasn't expecting anyone, that's all." Luke finished awkwardly. Did he know he had fallen for Caitlin?
"I ran into Caitlin recently. She said you were working here." The proved it; Alice had no idea.
"Yeah. Three times a week." Luke's mind was reeling with thoughts of how Alice would react once she found out about them.
"You like it?" Alice demanded. She was upset to have had heard from her sister Caitlin, instead of Luke, her boyfriend. How had Caitlin even known?
"It's a job. Money's not bad." Luke hoped Caitlin was running late for their date. Now was probably the worst time for a cat fight.
"You look good." Alice tried again. She didn't want to lose him.
"Thanks." Even with all his efforts, Alice still hadn't caught the hint; she was not wanted.
"Is that weird to say?" Alice asked hesistantly.
"No. No--you look good, too. Did you cut your hair?" He was stupid to ask that. It wasn't her Alice who hat cut her hair, it was Caitlin!

Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren!
I know I'm a tad late but I spent all afternoon on this :) hopefully you like it.

I placed the last book in the shelf. There, I thought to myself, done. Let the weekend begin. I let out a relieved sigh and climbed down the ladder. "Hi," said very familiar and comforting voice behind me as I stepped off the ladder.I spun around to face not only but a smiling Mr. Popular also known as Eric. "Oh! Hi. God, you scared me," I said as I let out a shaky smile. I felt my palms start to sweat. Why was I acting like this? Its just Eric, but I haven't spoken to him in what seems like forever since the 'incident.' This was going to be awkward, but what conversation with a guy isn’t? "Sorry," he said as he looked down bashfully and shoved his hands into his pocket. I loved how his blond hair fell over his face when he got nervous. Concentrate, Grace, I thought to myself. "No, that's fine," I found my self-blurting out. "I just wasn't..." Eric shot his eyes back to me. "What?" I looked down, not willing to make eye contact with him. "I just wasn't expecting anyone, that's all." Lie. I wasn't expecting him to talk to me ever again after I confessed my love for him last summer, but he choose varsity cheer captain, Isabel. I guess the pretty cheerleader always gets the star quarterback. Sometimes it dawns on me how clique high school is. He sighed and walked over to a shelf, pretending to find a book that caught his eye. "I ran into Caitlin recently," he said after a long moment of awkward silence. "She said you were working here." The little traitor. My only other friend can't keep my secret that I work at this rundown bookshop. He and Caitlin always plotted against me when we were little. We were practically raised together. I walked behind the counter putting a fair amount of distance between us so I could breath. "Yeah. Three times a week." I said through a forced smile "You like it?" He asked as he opened a book. I leaned forward on the counter letting my head drop; trying to ease out the tightness I had in my shoulders. "It's a job. Money's not bad." I heard the soft snap his book close and looked back up. Eric stood right in front of me. He gazed over my face with his swirly chocolate eyes I loved so much intensely that I couldn't escape it. "You look good," he breathed softly sending shiver up my spine. Oh, no, I could feel myself being pulled to him like a magnet. I broke the trance broke and snapped my head back down. "Thanks," I responded nochantly as stood up with straighter with my hands still on the counter. He took my chin and tilted it up to meet his gaze again. My heart pounded against my rib cage so loudly that I'm sure the people in the streets could hear it. Oh gosh, was he going to kiss me? Where the hell was this coming from and not last summer? "Is that weird to say?" Eric asked as if it were such a bad thing. My heart told me to scream at the top of my lungs ‘No! I love you still!’ but the wounds on it reminded me of how he rejected me. He made his decision and Eric picked Isabel instead of me that day. I couldn’t go back to the sleepless nights of crying my eyes out. Not again. "No. No--you look good, too,” I said almost too normally that I surprised myself. He dropped his hand, and I began to think much clearer. I stepped out from behind the counter and walked to the door. I took my jacket off the coat rack and stole a glance back at him. He looked at me with such a guilt it almost made me want to crawl back into his arms and forgive him for what he did. I said four words that I regret to this very day. “Did you cut your hair?" I didn’t look back again as I opened the door and walked out into the winter night as hot tears streamed down my cheeks.

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