Dialogue Exercises: Winning, Hiding and Ignoring


Professor Litt told us that you can do many things with dialogue. He explained how winning, hiding and ignoring work. I have wrote a post about it in the section “About Prose Fiction”. These are the exercise he gave us in class.

  1. Winning

Write a dialogue bewteen two men that have an argument about something. They should be talking about another issue that is not the one they’re pissed off about.

Clive was standing next to the table. Daniel knew that something was wrong in the exact moment he saw him. He wasn’t comfortably sitting at the table nor smoking or drinking a beer as usual. “You’re late.” Clive said, as Daniel approached. “You’re really fucking late.”

Daniel grabbed the back of the chair and dragged it backwards, then he sat, watching his friend. “Calm down, mate. It’s half past four. Try not to make it too big, would you? I’m on a hangover. Speak slowly and don’t have it at me just for being late at this fucking meeting or whatever it is.”

“It’s half past four, exactly. That’s the bloody point. We had to meet at 3.30. Do you think I’ve nothing better to do than sit at this fucking table in shitty hole of a place?”

“Oh, please, don’t come up with the I’m-a-very-busy-man story now.”

“It’s not a story, it’s the truth. I’m not going to wait one more minute only because you’re a fucking waste.”

“If I am such a waste then why the fuck did you want to see me? You’re talking like a fucking bird who’s angry at a guy but doesn’t want to say why because she expects him to get it by himself.”

Clive put off his sunglasses and threw them on the table with such force that Daniel thought they were going to break off. “That’s exactly what I want to talk about. Girls, and what a shitty person you are.”


2. Hiding

Write a dialogue between two people that are both trying to hide something.

She was crumbling some biscuits to bake a cake when he entered the kitchen. Her shoulders were a bit hunched and Tom looked at her hips as the laces of the apron emphasized her curves. They got a bit too large.

“Are you baking a cake again?” he asked.

She turned to face hi. “Oh, Tom. I didn’t hear you coming.” Her hands were covered with flour. She put out some hair from her forehead, but only managed to smear some flour on her face. “This is for Anita. Not for me.”

He knew she was lying. He had seen the stamps in the sink, the amount of milk, butter and chocolate she bought and, of course, how big her hips had got.

“Why do you ask in that tone? Do you think I’m getting fatter?”

Tom looked at her and didn’t say anything. They had spent only two minutes together, and she had already jumped at his throat.


3. Ignoring

Write a dialogue between two people who don’t talk about the same subjects because they are ignoring what the other is saying. Their dialogue shouldn’t be totally disconnected.

“The cat is getting old.” Pam was stroking Jens, the cat they had for 13 years.

“Where are you going?” Her mother came into the living room and started to fold some shirts, putting them on the couch methodically.

“Maybe we should bring him to the doctor. I haven’t seen him going out for a while.”

“Are you going to Myra’s?”

Her mother liked their cat, but she didn’t love him – he always pissed on the carpets and puked around, but Pam knew that wasn’t the reason why her mother wasn’t paying attention to Jens’ age in that moment. She got up to face her, as the cat kept on sleeping and purring on the floor.




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