Writers' Guild

A community for writers of all genres to hone our craft, with monthly exercises, challenges, and collaborative writing. Open to anyone who enjoys writing!

September 2011

September 2011

Our description says there are monthly exercises here. Seems like maybe we should actually have some.

To kick off the series, I begin with dialogue, my favorite thing to write. This exercise is about avoiding using 'said' or some other permutation of that. Write a conversation between three people with at least four entries per person that does not include anything like:

"he said"
"he said [adverb]"
"he said with [whatever]"

Other words that are stand-ins for 'said' can be used, but only once per speaker. This includes words like murmured, whispered, shouted, sobbed, and so on. Putting the person's name in to replace 'he' isn't good enough, you need to actively avoid this method of dialogue explanation.

The conversation should make sense to a reader, but doesn't need to have terms, names, places, etc. explained. In other words, make it a real conversation about something, not just three people yapping nonsense at each other.

x( Dauph. Now I've seen it. now I have to do it! why do you do this to my poor petite mind?

Wood scraped on metal; bone scraped on wood. Each sound was deafening, but quiet at the same time.
"I don't know why you have to do that" muttered the short, heavyset lady, holding her obviously distressed dog in her more than ample lap.
"S'my way. Why you gotta hold the damn dog? Dog's made fer layin'"
"Ya heard her, Sam. The cuffs ain't comin' off...ya know they'd never make a mistake like that!"
"That's correct, Mr. Pritchard; just what I'm saying. If you have some sort of nervous hab..."
"I ain't nervous, Suzanne...ain't got no habit, neither. Just for a few minutes, let me do this. Hell, I think I can get 'em off...ain't no damn lie! Boards this far below deck bound ta get rotten."
Suzy sat and nervously petted Muffy, the nervous dog's eyes darting about the dingy cell. "Very well. Too bad Muffy doesn't chew at things that aren't edible, or she could help. I'm not crazy about being in chains, either."
Bill looked at his own cuffs; they were simple and probably easy to pick. But he never took up lockpicking at the Guild, even though he was fairly fascinated by machinery. "Ya got a hairpin on ya, Suzy? It might not work, but it'll pass the time."
"Huh" Sam snorted in a very indignant manner. "You expect to get them open the high-tech way? This I gotta see."
The woman sighed and lifted both hands to enable her to find a rogue pin. "Here, I think..." came a triumphant giggle as she found a piece of metal. "I think this might help...if you're any good at that."
Sam chuckled and replied as if he was addressed. "Suzy, if ya ever seen Bill's mechanical aptitude, ya'd know what I mean. He has trouble with a nail and hammer." He continued to bite at the chain. Suddenly, almost on key, one link bent just enough to come loose, and he pulled the chain in half. "Aha!"
"Well, I guess all that noise helped! Now give us a hand!"
Sam laughed aloud. "Oh, so now we're friends! There's a reason I hurried...and a reason I'm not sticking around!"
"What the...!"
Sam walked to the bulkhead and opened it. Cold, brackish green sea water began to flood the compartment. Muffy nervously crawled to Suzy's shoulders as her owner began to scream.
"Damn you, Sam!" Bill's words could be heard to gurgle a bit.

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