3 Dialogue Techniques: Winning, Hiding and Ignoring


After his workshop about the three dialogue techniques (winning, hiding and ignoring), Professor Litt told us to submit a dialogue in which all three of them happened. This is my attempt. You can find the notes of the workshop in the section “About Prose Fiction”.

Clive was sprawled on his chair. He was smoking a cigarette, tapping his fingers on the glass of ale in front of him. As Dixon saw him, he thought everything could seem normal. It could be an ordinary summer afternoon that they would spend drinking beer and chatting at a pub in Stoke Newington. The sun was shining, but a nice breeze prevented his hair from sticking on the back of his neck. He sweated, but not because of the heat.

Dixon and Ale approached the table and Clive acknowledged their presence with a simple nod. He had sunglasses on and was smoking a cigarette.

“Hey.” said Dixon. Clive nodded again in response.

“What do you want, Dixon?” asked Ale, reaching for his wallet.

“Whatever you’re taking.”

Ale entered the pub and Dixon sat in front of Clive.

“Such a nice day, isn’t it?” he said, pulling out his packet of Rothmans. “Summer has finally come to London. And it’s not even as humid as I expected.”

Clive put off his cigarette without looking at him. “Stop this shit.”

Dixon swallowed. “And Stoke Newington is so nice in summer. I need to come here more often.”

Clive shook his head. “Dixon. You’re shaking.”

Dixon’s eyes fell on his own hands as he was lighting up the cigarette. Clive was right. He didn’t even realise it.

“What are you drinking?” Dixon asked him. He had no problems with talking about the night before with Ale, but with Clive it was another thing. He knew Clive would make it worse.

“I am drinking my own desperation and disappointment.”

Oh, well. It was impossible to start with some reassuring small talk. Clive wasn’t going to give up any time.

Ale came back to the table, holding two glasses of beer, and Dixon felt grateful for a moment.

“What did you take?” he asked him, taking his glass.

“San Miguel.” Ale sat at the table, opposite to Clive, and took one of Dixon’s Rothmans. “What are you drinking, Clive?”

Clive banged his fist on the table and Ale jumped on his chair.

“Can we stop with this bullshit, please? Do you think I am here to enjoy a nice summer afternoon chatting about this and that and ignoring the fact that we’re done forever?”

Ale rolled up his eyes. “Oh, great. Here we are again.”

Clive stared at him for a second. “Here we are again? Have you just said here we are again? Really?”

Ale returned the gaze. “Look, Dixon brought this shit up this morning. He woke me up and started blaring about this Daniel. I simply don’t believe it. I am sure he is sleeping in his bed and puking in a bucket as everyone else. And I’m positive nothing is going to change.”

Dixon knew it was going to end up like this, with Clive and Ale arguing and possibly making everything worse. He couldn’t just make up his mind about the night before. He had been drunk, so his memories were quite blurry, but he had a clear image in his mind: Clive shouting at Daniel, a crowd of people watching them and maybe the sirens of the police car approaching. But he wasn’t sure of that. He didn’t remembered anything else. He had probably passed out on the street.

“You don’t believe it? Are you serious?” Clive seemed on the edge of a breakdown.

Ale shrugged. “I don’t believe Daniel did it. I think some stupid skank wanted to put him in trouble because he cheated on one of her friends or some shit like that.”

Clive approached him, leaning on the table. “Do you have any idea of where Daniel is now?”

Ale shook his head. “Of course I don’t. This motherfucker passed out on the pavement and I brought him home before he could start puking and choking in his own vomit.”

Dixon looked at his friend. He didn’t know it. He hadn’t told him.

Clive grinned. “Oh well. That’s really amazing. You just come here and tell me that nothing will really change and you don’t even know what happened because you were too busy bringing this wreck home instead of worrying about our band.”

Ale laughed. “Oh, sorry, Clive. I thought you were going to say “about Daniel”, but of course your only concern is the future of the band.”

Dixon looked at Ale. He was a lazy bastard, but he was surely more ballsy than he was. He looked at the contents of his glass for a while, expecting Clive to explode. Which of course he did.

“Of course it is my concern! Daniel ruined us! How can you be so relaxed about it? We’re not going to sell any tickets. Any records. Any nothing. I called Timothy yesterday night and…”

“You called Timothy?” Dixon felt like he should have said something. Ale couldn’t be the only fighter in this battle. “So our friend was accused of rape and you called our manager instead of, I don’t know…”

“Oh, Dixon, stop it. Stop being a pussy, would you? I am…”

“I don’t give a bloody damn of what you are.” said Ale. He was almost snarling. “I brought Dixon home because he was a fucking waste. Now I want to know what you did for Daniel. Where is he? Tell me now.”

Clive looked at him. Dixon had never seen Ale so angry.

“I did what was right for our band. I wanted to do good to all of us.”

“Bullshit!” exploded Dixon. “You don’t even know if Daniel did it or how he is now! I tried to call him this morning, to ask him how he was. Did you do that?”

Clive finished off his beer. Dixon had the impression he was trying to stall.

“Where is Daniel, Clive?” growled Ale. “What happened to him?”

“If you care so much, why didn’t you go see him?”

“Because he lives in fucking Heathrow and we don’t know what happened to him since he’s not answering the phone! Are you retarded?” shouted Ale.

Some people turned to watch them. Clive looked aroud, then leaned on the table to approach his friends. He lowered his voice. “He spent the night at Stratford Police Station.”

Dixon felt a pang of horror in his chest. He hadn’t really believed it. Now he knew he couldn’t ignore the truth anymore. Daniel must have raped that girl. As he tried to grab the Rothmans packet, he felt his hair sticking on the back of his hair.



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