Monday, September 5, 2011

All Dialogue

*Post inspired by the Lightning-bug's Flicker of Inspiration prompt, "Talk It Out."
"For this week's prompt, we'd like you to tell us a story using only dialogue. That's right. There can be no 'he said/she said,' no modifiers at all in fact. Just conversation, plain and simple, between quotes. Not that you necessarily have to use quotation marks... Tell a tale through conversation and dialogue between your "characters." This can be fiction or non-fiction...and can even be poetry. Take it anywhere you like, just talk it out and come back here next Sunday to share."

This prompt was very difficult. But, I love the way the Lightning-bug always throws us a good writing challenge! It made me realize just how important dialogue is in a piece and how equally important modifiers are to illustrate the simple things, like emotion. So even though zero modifiers or lead-ins went against everything I've learned to do as a writer, and everything I'm used to, here you go. Hopefully it's not too confusing.


This is the fourth installment in the Red Wheelbarrow (for the previous installments, visit the page above). It's a conversation between the main character, Charlene (who opens the dialogue), and a new character I'm now introducing. Because using quotes seemed pointless (and tedious), each double hard return signifies a character switch. Constructive criticism is always welcome!


You go any further and the tip of my blade emerging from your gut will be the last thing you see.

Farther.

What?

You said if I go any further. It’s farther.

You really wanna correct me with a knife to your back?

I just figured you’d want to know. You know, just so you don’t make a fool of yourself the next time you’re threatening someone’s life.

Son of a—

Be careful with that thing, sweetheart! If I didn’t know any better, I’d think you actually wanted to use it.

What makes you think you know better, Mr. English Professor?

Not an English professor. Just got an education is all. You know, from a real school. And I know better because your voice is trembling. You won’t do anything.

My voice is not trembling.

That was a little better.

Shut up. Don’t talk.

What, this isn’t going how you rehearsed?

I said Shut. Up.

Well, you did rehearse it, didn’t you, sweetheart? You sound too young to be a pro. That’s also probably why you think someone who's grammatically correct is some brilliant professor.

Gramma—what?

Exactly.

You laugh one more time and I’ll actually use this knife. And I never said brilliant. You’re pretty stupid if you think sitting here in the bare bushes like this is discreet.

Oh, discreet. Good. Sounds like you know a little.

I know a lot for someone like me, idiot. Back when things were still normal, before she had me, my mother was a school teacher. She’s taught me everything.

Not everything, I’d say.

Who the hell do you think you are?

Oh, look. She’s getting upset…

Why are you spying on us? Who sent you to look for us?

No one sent me. I’m alone. Just trying to find a safe place is all.

Liar. No one’s alone anymore.

I am.

You probably have some squad somewhere, waiting for your command.

I wouldn’t serve a minute for our piece-of-shit government. Not anymore. Do I look like I belong in the military?

I’ve seen them use disguises.

So, how old are you, sweetheart? Twelve, thirteen?

Fifteen.

Shit! I said be careful with that thing. You even know how to use it?

I could have you gutted in a matter of seconds.

So why haven’t you?

Stop talking and let me think…

Well, if you’re all this camp has for protection I’d say I’m coming out on top.

You know nothing. You don’t know what we’ve been through, what I’ve seen. Or what I’m capable of.

Sweetheart, I’m sure it’s the same things any soul still living has seen.

Don’t call me that anymore. Keep your mouth shut, put up your hands, and walk.

If you’re so hardcore, why not just gut me from behind, right here?

Stop tempting me.

I mean it. Why not?

We might need you. If you know where this meadow is, others might, too. We’ll need to know who.

I already told you, I’m alone.

Then I guess I can kill you…

Whoa, whoa. No need for that. My guts happen to be very precious to me, so why don’t you just lower that knife and we can talk?

Oh, now you think I’m serious?

Your voice isn’t so shaky anymore.

Turn around.

Why, so you can gut me the right way?

So I can look into your eyes.

Romantic. But you’re nearly ten years younger than me, sweet—

So I can read you. I happen to be good at that. If you’re telling the truth, I might let you live. But no funny business.

Well, I’ll be. You’re kinda pretty for a little murderer.

What makes you think you can lower your hands? I said—

No funny business, I know. But really, sweetheart—you think you could take me?

Stop. Don’t come any closer.

Look at you. You’re just a little thing. What are you, maybe a buck-five? And you gotta be crazy, being out here by yourself like this.

I’m warning you…

John. Name’s John. And I’m the last person you need to worry about out here. Now give me the knife, sweetheart, and maybe we can make some arrangement.

4 comments:

Lance said...

If this were a song, your first line would be the greatest in rock history. Grabbed me immediately. Like the intensity and how you maintained everything throughout.

I went back and read the otehr installments and I congratulate you on this one. This must have been difficult.

good stuff

J. Ross said...

I like this a lot; you paint a great scene here. I haven't read the previous entries but I still get a sense of setting and a vague idea of the world these characters are living in. You conveyed all that and the character's actions through the dialog in a very natural-sounding way, which is really harder than it sounds. Nicely done. I'm going to go back over the previous entries now I think :-)

May said...

I didn't find it hard to follow with just the dialogue. It was a challenge to keep other words out of these pieces though, wasn't it?!

I am curious to see what John is going to bring to the mix!

Jen said...

I'd say you did pretty darn good with this prompt!!
I love the back and forth you used...I like the tough chic you made her to be.