Prepared by: Alex Quisenberry
Posted on: August 23, 2003
Reposted on: April 17, 2005
This week - a dialog exercise with
misunderstandings, where people
they're talking about the same thing but aren't.
One of the first Practice-W Exercises
involved using DIALOG between
characters to tell the story. Let's keep that theme.
In the example below we see a conflict
emerge. Now, there's no need
you (the reader) Jim is standing in the kitchen, or that Jim is hungry,
Jim can look around the kitchen and plainly see there's nothing
Jim's words SHOW US all these things. Let the Dialog tell the story.
"Helen, I'm home. Where
are you. And, where's
"I'm in here."
"Hon, I'm hungry. Are we
"Jim Come here, we need
While these four lines do not define the
"misunderstanding" they do
quite a bit. We know the Character's names, what time of day it is,
expectations are, and a strong hint that the only thing simmering
is her problem.
As we discussed this Exercise Rheal
suggested his own set of opening
"How long have we been
driving", Ethel asked.
"About four hours," said
Hubert. "We should be
there by nightfall."
"Would you like to stop
"No, I'm fine."
(Picture a car driving
along a free-way, past an
The misunderstanding here is that Ethel is
telling her husband,
that it's time for a break. But he's focused on his goal (getting
takes her question at face value - so he answers, and thinks the matter
closed. (Later, he won't understand why Ethel isn't in a better
So, this time rather than a serious
problem, a misunderstanding.
There are some
wonderful classic misunderstandings in Dialog form. Some are hilarious
on First" comes to mind
This week use dialog to tell the story,
but fundamental to your
dialog is a
misunderstanding, where people think they're talking about the same
Use between 300 and 500 words
Hope we can have some fun with this.
Alex Quisenberry's wrap-up
Posted on: August 31, 2003
An interesting mix of Subs in Prac-W this
Dialog exercise, with a twist - two
are NOT talking about the same thing, which
means that the dialog is telling two stories -
a different story for each of our "cast members."
I love the wonderful misunderstandings:
She's talking about her son the advanced
scholar while he is talking about a
She's talking a belly ache while he thinks
she's trying to tell him she is pregnant.
the power company lineman who wants to
stick a wooden pole in a garden on the estate
and the housewife who tricks him into the house
for altogether different reasons, which are
remarkably similar - different pole, different
the mother who defends her child accused
in school only to discover in the end it was she
he was cursing.
the couple discussing their failing child
talking about remedial help with his subjects
while she is talking about his psychological
health in general
the mom who complains that the music is so
she cannot think and the daughter who agrees and
wants to know where's her drink.
The dialog too was good, in almost every
the dialog created the story line, by "listening"
to what was being said we learned about the
characters and the conflict (misunderstanding).
It was fun, as these exercises should be,
was different enough to stretch us a little into the unfamiliar.
Thanks to all who participated.
Web site created by
Rhéal Nadeau and
the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.