I'm taking Introduction to Fiction this semester, and my instructor gave us an interesting writing exercise to do. At first, I was hesitant to try it out, but I think it's now one of my favorite writing exercises ever!
Here are the instructions:
This writing prompt is to force you into thinking about and incorporating dialogue into your stories. First, read the small essay...about dialogue. [Attached below.] It should help significantly. Second, read "Hills Like White Elephants" by Ernest Hemmingway.
After reading the story, I want you to work on your own scene/story that is dialogue focused. You must put two characters into a setting and force them into communication. I want to see at least 20 lines of dialogue. Make sure you are following the crafting tips presented in the essay "On Dialogue."...This exercise should not be a full story, but only a scene of character exploration through dialogue...
It was easy to decide which two characters I wanted to use, but I wasn't sure about what situation would force them to talk to each other, so I asked Hubby for a suggestion.
"Seven minutes in heaven," he said.
"You mean, put them in a closet?" I asked.
I carried my laptop over to him and sat next to him on the couch. "But it says here at the bottom of the instructions: Allow the actions of the characters and the setting of their locale to help tell the story. That means I need to describe a closet."
Unexpected World Building
Using a closet was unexpectedly made me learn more about the world these characters live in. The stuff in the closet told me about the weather outside (flip flops, umbrellas versus skis and snow boots) and learn more about the person's home they were in. Yeah, I learned about a character that wasn't even part of the dialogue just by looking at what kind of stuff was in his closet. I didn't expect that! This made me think about what would be in my other character's closet. hmmm...
"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down... and bleed."
"Mongkok Street, Hong Kong"