You’re dreading it: your review with your boss, a conversation with a best friend, or a conference with your teacher about your grades.
If you’re like me, you amplify those situations in your mind…giving voice and thoughts and mannerisms to your opponent, deciding what they will say, and how you will respond, building and building the encounter until it’s blown out of proportion…
This happened to me just last week. (And it was so anticlimactic when I got my way right out the starting gate and didn’t need to list all the reasons why I needed to do a certain something or use all the arguments against what I thought were going to be the obstacles in my way…)
Sigh. And I was so raring to go.
You’ve had moments like that, right?
Well, don’t let these thoughts go to waste! They make excellent fodder for writing.
Here’s Your Prompt: Think of a situation in which you have to confront someone and 1) ask for something you’re certain you’re not going to get, or 2) tell someone something you really don’t want to say because it will make them __________ (angry, sad, jealous, etc. You fill in the blank).
If you can’t think of a real-life situation, make one up.
Step 1: Just write the dialogue. How do you start off? Do you come right to the point and ask for something, or do you build up to the pitch? Do you try to be tactful and save someone’s hurt feelings? Or, do you give it to them straight knowing you’re going to get blasted with anger, but at least it will be over with quickly? Write from the beginning all the way to the last word of the conversation or argument.
Step 2: Go back to the beginning and 1) set the scene, and 2) add the action. Are you standing or sitting? Perhaps only one of you is standing. Who screams her words? Who cries and wrings his hands? Is it day or night, outside or inside, close to a holiday or an important (to you or your opponent) event?
Step 3: Once more, go to the beginning and start adding little details to give the scene some flavor: who’s wearing a red sweater and black loafers? Who’s long hair gets in the way? What kind of dog barked? Can you hear the sound of rain, a horn blowing, or a voice singing off key in the distance?
Finally: consider how this scene could be included in a story. Is it one of many arguments that two people have during the course of a novel? If so, think of other things these two can argue about, how could you build the plot around the theme of the argument/conversation? Or, could this be the culminating point of a short story? The highpoint? What events could have led up to this “blowout”? How could it be wrapped up?