Enter our new challenge to sharpen your creative writing skills
All About Writing’s latest writing challenge offers the winner a literary assessment on 5000 words of writing worth R 2750 or a voucher to the same value to use on one (or more) of our courses or programmes.
A young girl (or boy) of about seventeen has been studying hard for their finals. She (or he) has always imagined she will go to university and become a lawyer, just like dad. It’s not been something she’s ever thought deeply about: it was always just assumed, by her parents and her.
Now s/he’s met a slightly older boy (or girl), and they’ve been dating. One day her new friend announces that he’s decided to join the circus. He tries to persuade her to join him and do the same.
Write this conversation as part of a scene, but don’t use only dialogue. Allow one or both of them to be doing something, even something trivial, while they speak. Use these actions to show us more about the character/s and possibly their reaction to what is being discussed.
Write no more than 250 words. Paste your entry into the body of an email and send to firstname.lastname@example.org by midnight on 31 March.
- Although these seemingly trivial actions don’t take the story forward, they help ground the characters in their reality, and help you show how they’re reacting to each other and the conversation.
- Dialogue alone is too spare. It means the conversation is happening in a vacuum and the ping pong nature of its delivery makes it monotonous.
- In real life, people aren’t simply talking heads. They are almost always doing something while they speak: cooking a roast, unpacking the shopping, struggling to open a stuck window…
- But when you think about the action of a scene, think a little deeper than simply what your characters are doing. Good writing is about being specific and vivid. Don’t simply write: “He tidied the towels away” or “She unpacked the shopping”.
- Be specific. What does tidying the towels, or unpacking the shopping, consist of? What are the small specific details, down to the way she stacks the tins of baked beans or he folds a bath sheet?
- The way each is carried out gives us a clear picture of the scene, while adding insight into the character responsible for it, and his reaction to the dialogue.