The Ink Well Fast and Furious Festival Day 1 - Dialogue

in The Ink Well2 months ago (edited)

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Image by congerdesign from Pixabay

This is my response to theinkwell's fast and furious festival day one task. The festival challenges writers to spend 25 minutes/day (or more if you'd like) writing a post based on a creative prompt.

Todays prompt and challenge revolves around dialogue and is split into two tasks.


Task 1:

In your post, take what you learn about each of the three characters from the dialogue in the extract below and then develop them until you have a paragraph describing the character more fully.

A woman in a restaurant whispers to her friend:
"You know who that is over there, don't you?"
The other woman surreptiously glances at the other table:
"No, who?"
"That's just it, she's had so much work done you don't recognise her. That's Betty Grainger."
"No!"
"Yes, she's had her nose done, cheeks lifted, even a hair transplant."
"Whatever for?"
"She's going into politics."
"Seriously, that's really her?"

What do you learn about each of the three characters? How old do you think they are? What kind of life-style do they lead? Have they got a job? Where do they live? Do they have a family or friends? What do they wear? Have they got a secret in their past? Do you like them? Tell us all about them in your post - a paragraph for each character.

Quote from The Ink Well Fast and Furious Festival - Day One

My response:

Lady 1 is called Isabel Priory and considers herself to be an authority on most subjects. She is a gossip, and finds deep pleasure in pointing out other peoples foibles, or being the first to know their secrets. She spends her days either at expensive Los Angeles coffee shops or at the country club. She is forty two and married to the CEO of a large company who spends most of his time travelling or at the office. She doesn't work and instead spends her days engaged in small intrigues and hobbies. Her father is an after dinner speaker and a retired politician from a wealthy family.

Lady 2 is called Tilly Bridgeham and she is more retiring than Isabel but just as voracious for gossip. She loves to live vicariously through others but kids herself that she is an unwilling accomplice in the theatre of scandal. Tilly works as a writer for an online lifestyle magazine covering all things 'celebrity culture'. She is in her late thirties and is single. Although seemingly more introverted in character, she moonlights as a secret diner for her magazine and is one of the most scathing food critics in Hollywood. Secretly she takes pleasure in the power she wields from the shadows and takes pride that her reviews can make or break a new restaurant.

Betty Grainger is a fifty-something ex tennis star from the 1970s. She worked as a TV journalist commentating at the Olympics after a knee injury forced her into early retirement from tennis. Betty went to school with Isabel at Harvard-Westlake but they didn't know each other and were several years apart. After her TV career fizzled out in her late fifties she settled down and got married to a state senator but was unsatisfied with playing the wife on his arm. It was at this time that she had extensive plastic surgery and also founded a charity organization for victims of gang violence. She finally decided to run for office after witnessing a shooting in downtown LA.


Task 2

Write a short dialogue, like the one above, no more than 70-100 words, where two characters are talking about a third one. What can you reveal about your characters in your dialogue?

Quote from The Ink Well Fast and Furious Festival - Day One

My response:

"What do you think he means by I'm still on the fence?" Mary's eyebrow twitched as she bit her lip.

Don flashed her his paper cut smile "I don't know dear maybe he just wants to get to know them first."

"What is there to know? They're willing to invest in my idea and he's still unsure."

"It is his money dear, and it is a lot to be giving to us in his retirement. I guess he just wants to be sure who he'll be dealing with if the product is picked up."

“What do you mean if?”


As you can see in my response to task one, a lot of the character development in dialogue comes from the reader filling in the gaps using their imagination. I might have gone a little overboard in the back story I created, but this is honestly the picture that built in my mind as I read and re-read the dialogue from theinkwell post.

Something I was always taught with dialogue was to allow room for the reader to fill out some of the character's traits in their own mind. Brief descriptions of body language during dialogue hint at the relationship between characters, their moods and motivations. This becomes a satisfying moment of revelation for the reader when the picture they have built up in their mind is confirmed by later actions in the story. It is a great literary technique, and very satisfyingly for the reader, when they later find out that what they had deducted from a character's dialogue and actions turns out to be true.

In my response to task two I tried to use the techniques I mentioned above. I used Mary's body language to show her irritation and don's smile to show that they were involved in the banter of two people in a relationship. The subject of the dialogue may or may not have achieved that revelatory effect I mentioned above.

The only way to find out is for you to let me know in the comments who you think the three characters are; their dreams, ambitions and personal histories. Go wild with your imagination.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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All images used in this post are modified from creative commons license sources, credited beneath the image. If you have enjoyed this creative exercise and want to get involved check out the festival announcement post The Ink Well Fast and Furious Festival Launch, and you can check out my homepage @raj808 for similar creative content. Thank you.

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I think I already got the idea from the question. Your example helps me to create my dialogue. Thank you.

That's great Ricardo. I look forward to seeing your entry 🙂

I am very pleased to read your publication. Not only that it clarifies the panorama in relation to the activity that has been proposed but, at the same time, it allows me to note some technical specifications about character construction and how the dialogue can strengthen that impression in the reader. Excellent. Congratulations!

Hi morey-lezama

I'm glad my post helped you gain clarification on the fast and furious festival, and what it is all about.

These tasks are great creative writing learning tools. I struggle to retain information when reading a book about 'writing rules', but when I do creative prompts like this it becomes ingrained in the memory through the practice.

I laughed a little because of the description of his characters, a little eccentric but the dialogue also gives us the opportunity to blow up our imagination and exaggerate the description.

I liked very much his post, very organized his presentation, has helped me with the options of the labels always I doubt with them.

congratulations🤝

Hi soyunasantacruz

I'm glad my post helped inspire ideas for your own entry which I read with pleasure.

Also, that it came across well the husband and wife style banter between the two main characters in my dialogue. In my mind they have been together for so long that they're constantly teasing each other. And it is gratifying that Mary's exasperation at her husband not supporting her implicitly came across as humorous as this is what I was going for rather than her being truly angry.

This is great fun, @raj808. Your character descriptions are very full and realistic. I can easily envision these ladies! I also loved the dialog with the little interspersed touches hinting at physical features. Well done!

Something I was always taught with dialogue was to allow room for the reader to fill out some of the character's traits in their own mind. Brief descriptions of body language during dialogue hint at the relationship between characters, their moods and motivations. This becomes a satisfying moment of revelation for the reader when the picture they have built up in their mind is confirmed by later actions in the story. It is a great literary technique, and very satisfyingly for the reader, when they later find out that what they had deducted from a character's dialogue and actions turns out to be true.

Fantastic. Maybe I should have you write one of the tips posts around this concept!

Ha ha, yes I could write a tips post about dialogue (if I had the time, maybe next month) as it was my Achilles heel at university and so the writing tutors used to always focus on drumming some hard and fast rules into me... as much as that was possible.

The upshot is that I've developed a very considered approach to dialogue now as I know I can fall into old habits if I don't watch myself. Glad you enjoyed the character descriptions. I went for a 'mean ladies of LA' theme 🤣

You had thoughtful described the characters engaged in the conversation from task 1. I specifically love that of lady 2.
Striking a conversation is a bit difficult and I can tell you did well. I'm not too good in seeing areas where a writer is lacking but I can tell when I enjoy reading one

I specifically love that of lady 2.

Thanks dwixer. It was a split between her and Betty Grainger for me, although I think I'm leaning toward Lady 2 as well. The secret diner food critic who destroys restaurants reputations from the shadows is my favorite... I guess I lake a bad girl 🤣

Thanks for checking out my post :)

Could relate to all three characters
I find most times, the gossip is the one that has plenty of time to do it, and then there's that friend who is more of an introvert, ever ready to soak it all in ;p

Could feel Mary's indignance :D

I find most times, the gossip is the one that has plenty of time to do it

Isn't it so often the way. I'm not a big fan of gossip myself, and rarely get pulled into it... so it made it extra fun imagining the motivations of these two gossiping ladies and once I imagined an upper echelon LA setting it all fell into place 🤣

Glad Mary's indignance came across. In my mind she has a million dollar idea for a product and they'd all be crazy not to jump on it.

Thanks for checking out my post @kaerpediem 🙂

Thanks for this @raj808 so good to see you back :) I'm glad I have some great example on how to present today's prompt. I hope to be able to complete the exercises.

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Hi @iamraincrystal

I'm glad to be back and thank you for the welcome. It's great my post helped inspire ideas for your own entry which I've just read.

Good luck with the fast and furious festival my friend. I'm not sure I'm gonna be able to do every day but I'm shooting for 2-3 entries/week. I'll be very impressed with anyone who does all 20 days 😂

Take care x

Hello Raj,
I love your character profiles! I especially enjoyed the third profile, Betty Grainger. The detail is exquisite:

She finally decided to run for office after witnessing a shooting in downtown LA.

As for your dialogue:
I think each of us will see what our experience tells us. I see adult children, especially one child (Mary) who wants her (their) father to invest in a project. He has money, and she wants it. Apparently, this father has been generous in the past, because she comes to her argument with a sense of entitlement. Also, she will not entertain the idea that maybe the project will not succeed and the father's money will be lost.

A rich dialogue, indeed. But of course, seen through my life's lens (no, my kids don't yearn after my money....there's not enough for them to covet 😂)

Hi agmoore

Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed the character profiles, I enjoyed dreaming them up.

Well.. you hit the nail on the head (nearly 100%) with your guesses about the dialogue. In my mind it was a woman talking with her husband about her father sitting on the fence over investing in her product idea. I'm not sure where it came from to be honest, but that is exactly what I was thinking when I wrote it.

I also wanted to portray the familiar banter that long term partners have through the interactions of the two speaking characters. I'm not sure how effective that was, but it is gratifying to see that the circumstances of what they were talking about were clear.

Thanks for reading and your insightful comment 🙂

Hello @raj808. Extraordinary description of your characters. All of them have very precise names and characteristics.

Tilly Bridgeham is over thirty... but we don't know her age, strange!

As for your dialogue exercise.A couple talks with confidence. The third character is cautious. The notes enrich the dialogue as in a play. Well done! I liked your two exercises.

Greetings!

Thanks Marcy.

Tilly Bridgeham is over thirty... but we don't know her age, strange!

Ha ha, I guess that's because often women don't like to say their age. I think subconsciously I was speaking to that but I didn't think about it at the time of writing.

I thought about that too. Not saying the age fits the character!