Greysnet Creative Writing Course: "Chapter 4"

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Here it is, the next instalment in our hugely popular Creative Writing series, brought to you as always by the brilliant Karen Quinn. This week the subject is dialogue and, while I don’t want to put words in your mouth (although that is rather the idea), I think you’ll certainly agree that it’s one of the most fascinating forty five minutes you’ve ever spent.

“Remember” the teacher announced in her characteristic Southern Irish lilt, which had become so familiar over the last few weeks, “to have your pens and paper ready so you can join in”.

“Oh and by the way” added the man from Greysnet, just as the class was about to begin, “if you’re new to the Creative Writing Course, you can find the other episodes here.” The teacher gave him a withering look and he slinked back into his chair, “sorry miss.”

“Well, if there are no further interruptions,” chimed the teacher, “let’s begin.”

Dialogue 5 minute story expanded.

Rachel exited the lift and walked towards her apartment. Fumbling in her handbag she finds her keys and is just about to insert the key into the lock when she becomes aware someone is standing behind her. Startled she drops the bunch of keys.

‘Rachel, Rachel I’m so sorry,’ Ben mumbled apologetically. ‘I, um didn’t want to make you jump. Here let me get your keys.’
Simultaneously they both bent over to pick up the keys and their heads momentarily clashed. Totally embarrassed Ben jumped back hands gesticulating apologetically as he mumbled his apologies.
Rachel, keys in hand looked at him disapprovingly.
’ Ben! ’ she began in a harsh tone but seeing her friend’s embarrassed demeanour her voice softened.
‘Its alright Ben, its alright.’
‘Rachel,’ he began. ‘Can we talk?’
‘Sure Ben, but not out here in the hallway. Come into my apartment.’

They both entered the apartment, Ben following Rachel like an excited but awkward puppy dog.
‘Can I get you a drink?’ Rachel casually enquired.
‘No, no I’m okay Rach,’ Ben looked rather uncomfortable unable to look Rachel in the eye.
‘I, I have to say something Rach… get it off my chest… I, um.’
‘Spit it out Ben, I have to meet the girls in an hour and I need a shower so hurry up, spit it out.’
Finally summoning the courage Ben started to talk. ‘Rachel… I.’

Just then the ringtone of Rachel’s phone rang out in that annoying alien bar scene from one of the Star Wars movies. The sort of clarinet sounding one.
Rachel picked up the phone and looked at Ben seeking permission to answer it. With no response from Ben she answered it anyway.
‘Yes, oh hello Sandra… yes, yes I’ll see you in an hour. Ben’s here.’ Whatever Sandra said caused Rachel to look over to Ben.
'Oh, right I see, okay, okay… bye.

’ So, Ben.’ Rachel began.’ You’ve been talking to Sandra?’
At this Ben appeared to squirm a little. Finally in a state of panic he said
’ Rachel, Rachel… I, um… I um… I love you and I don’t want you to take that job in Scotland!’
Relieved to have finally revealed his feelings for his long time friend he waited and looked pleadingly into her eyes for any flicker of hope that she would have feelings for him.
Rachel looked at him. Ben gripped by panic and fear stood rooted to the spot.
‘Ben, Ben… I.’

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Hi @BillTurner,

First of all, sorry for the delay in getting back to you: I have been experiencing some internet issues down here in Donegal.

Secondly, wow… that ended on a cliff hanger! You have really captured Ben’s emotions well, and I love how you listened carefully to the advice and built up the reveal of your character’s desires through teasing out the conversation. If I was to give you some advice, it would be to allow that to be teased out even further… have them argue, have a proper spat, and make that final reveal be the only words he could possibly say to her. Also, as a general rule, we try to avoid using adverbs (they describe verbs), for example “Ben mumbled apologetically”. Instead, I would recommend just saying “Ben said”. Allow your readers’ imaginations to run riot; let your dialogue speak for itself. Having said that, I’m really loving the drama in this piece… and you used a very interesting technique that I’m going to discuss for our next workshop this week! I’ll hold off to explain it in detail for you.

Keep writing, Bill. I love reading your work!

Best wishes,

Thank you Karen. Your feed back as always is much appreciated and I shall take on board your comments. Did you get to read the final piece of my police Thriller? See you for part 5 of the tutorial. Again, thank you.

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Hi Bill,

I didn’t! I’ll have a look at the previous chats and get back to you… I’m excited to read it!


:+1:Nae probs Karen