Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Writing Exercise #1 - Living Dialogue

In order to improve one's writing, one has to practice, right? Well, here is a writing exercise that will help do just that. I will start with an exercise relating to one of my weaknesses - dialogue. I find it very hard to write dialogue in a smooth, believable way. My problem isn't so much with using the right words as with the format in general, but that we will deal with another time. This is just something to get going, write however much you choose but spend at least 20 minutes on the exercise. Personally, I don't plan what I'm going to write when doing an assignment like this, but if you want to make it a part of a longer story, feel free to plan as much as you like.

The exercise has been adapted from The Five Minute Writer by Margaret Geraghty (an excellent book if you want to exercise your writing muscles!), exercise no. 45: Visual Dialogue. Have fun!

Decide on a number of activities that your characters are performing while speaking, and make sure that these become apparent to the reader, without actually saying what they are doing (i.e., you are not allowed to have a character say e.g. "How I loathe moving furniture like this, it makes my back ache!"). If you want to, show your finished dialogue to a friend and have them tell you what they think your characters are doing. If you can't come up with anything for you characters to do, here are some suggestions:
  • Reading
  • Chopping down a tree
  • Holding on to a very heavy object they can't let go of
  • Talking in their sleep
  • Driving
  • Playing tennis
  • Painting the walls of their flat
  • Eating very greasy food
  • Rowing a boat
  • Running away from an angry swan

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