When I attended the Mt. SAC Fiction Workshop with Paul Tayyar Fiction on April 24, 2014, one of his prompts asked us to construct our story around a dialogue between two characters who are having a disagreement over a particular subject.
We had to make up the characters on the spot and write ONLY in dialogue, making sure that the dialogue differentiated the characters without the need for tags and that the conflict was apparent. This is actually a good exercise to focus on your character’s voice. How do you want them to sound? How does this relate to the way they deal with things?
So, when you try the activity, make sure to write the dialogue without adding any tags to tell the reader who is who or what they are doing at the moment. Let the words they convey be the clues.
At first, I had a lot of trouble jump-starting the writing, but then, I thought about an idea I’ve had for a while about a teacher…
Anyhow, here’s my attempt at the prompt:
“Stop following me.”
“I can’t do that.”
“You’ve said that before.”
“And I say it again. There’s nothing that can be done. I’m temporarily attached to you until you complete your mission.”
“My mission is to win over a bunch of kids into loving school. Not babysit the idea of having a ghost shadow me while I use the restroom.”
“I can’t see human grooming and such.”
“But you’re right there when I’m out!”
“Duly noted. Now, what are you going to do for Jason?”
“Haven’t you been listening? I can’t think or live my life, not even plan a lesson with you flying through walls and getting in my face.”
“Apparently the memo hasn’t sunk in.”
“Stop it! Just stop.”