Wednesday, February 11, 2015

A Pure Dialogue Exercise from Steering the Craft (Exercise 9, Part 1)

I'll be back with more later for Exercise 7 and 8 (which, along with novel progress, has kept me busy). For now, a quick one from Exercise 9, Part 1: Telling It Slant.

Part One: A & B
(Note that the assignment is quoted from page 119-120 of Steering the Craft by Ursula K Le Guin)
The goal of this exercise is to tell a story and present two characters through dialogue alone.
Write a page or two – word count would be misleading, as dialogue leaves a lot of unfilled lines -  a page or two of pure dialogue.
Write it like a play, with A and B as the characters’ names. No stage directions. No description of the characters. Nothing but what A says and B says. Everything the reader knows about who they are, where they are, and what’s going on, comes through what they say.
Note: A& B is not an exercise in writing a short story. It’s an exercise in one of the elements of storytelling. You may, in fact, come out with a quite satisfactory little playlet or performance piece, but the technique is not one to use much or often in narrative prose.

Note on the story: while A is a completely new character, B is actually based on a character from a work-in-progress. Rather unfair to the A bloke. Aw well. Comments welcome as always.
I always found writing pure dialogue a lot of fun and it leaves a lot of loose ends or open space from which to write a fuller story from. And there was some great explanation of this and the focus of this chapter (telling a story indirectly) in Steering the Craft - recommended.