Write a scene in which a great deal of emotion is expressed without dialogue. In the scene, two characters express their dislike of each other – without any words.
They must be doing something. The business of the scene is vital to the expression of the unarticulated feelings of the characters. (Think of the scene, by Peter de Vries, in which a husband and wife in a hotel room are washing each other’s underwear in their endless attempt to wrest the moral high ground from each other. )
Write this scene from the perspective of a 3rd character, observing the two characters who dislike each other, otherwise it’s too tempting to use inner thought. Give yourself half an hour to do the exercise.
Winning Entry by Linda Ravenhill
If it had not been for the bad weather and the subsequent rolling of the ship, she might never have noticed them.
Ten days into their trip from Cape Town to Southampton and the weather had been relatively pleasant.
Since they crossed the line leaving the tropics behind however, the grey rolling waves of the Atlantic had come into play, sending many passengers scurrying to their cabins or the sick bay.
She herself experienced no side-effects, and was curled comfortably in one of the lounge chairs, idley flipping through her book.
Seated at the bar they made an odd couple. What drew her attention to them was the almost palpable enmity radiating from the woman, and the somewhat less than enthused reaction from her partner.
They seemed rather well-to-do, or rather she did. Covered in a cashmere wrap against the cold, her immaculately styled hair and perfectly applied make-up set her apart from the other middle-class passengers on this trip.He on the other hand was a seemingly strange companion for her. Black greasy hair teamed with a black greasy moustache gave off an air of dissolution.
As she watched from the security of the lounge chair the ship suddenly lurched wildly to the side.
The lurch threw the woman awkwardly against her companion.
As if burnt, the woman righted herself, clinging onto the bar for support, her lips compressed into a thin line, her body stiffened against the contact.
Turning her shoulder away from the man, she signalled to the waiter for another drink.
Her companion who had made no move to assist the woman, literally bristled with distaste – whether at the physical contact, the woman’s reaction to him, or her need for another drink. Not a word passed between then the entire time.
Suddenly without warning the man stood up, slamming his glass on the bar counter and turning to give the woman what can only be called a contemptuous glare, stormed out of the room.
Astonished by this display she turned to look back at the woman and found her seemingly unaffected by this theatrical exit.
If she had not been looking at that moment however she would have missed the final scene in this strange act.
As she watched, the woman turned to look at her companion’s retreating back and a thin cruel considered smile played across briefly across her face, and then was gone..
Turning back to the waiter, she nodded her head for another.