Join Jessica Brody for an in-depth discussion in this video Mini lecture: A very bad conversation (foundation), part of The Foundations of Fiction.
(tranquil music) - Okay so this is our very bad conversation prompt where we had to write a very bad dialogue. - And then try to fix it. - And then try to fix it. - Right. - How did you get on and which prompt did you choose? - I chose a teenager wants to borrow money from their father. I'm always going for the teenager prompts. - Right. - Okay so here's my bad version, - Okay. - Yo, hey you, dad, over here, I'm over here, on the patio.
Yeah, look this way, to the left, hi. My dad finally finds me sitting on a lounge chair scrolling through my phone. You could get up you know, dad says, instead of yelling at me from across the yard. You're always doing that. You never just get up and come over to talk to me. You've been doing that since you were a kid. Like that time at the mall when you yelled at your mother from across the entire department store. Yeah, okay, fine, whatever dad, I say snarkily. Dad looks like he wants to argue but changes his mind. So, what do you want? I, um, well, you see, sort of, I begin nervously.
Dad hates it when I ask him for money, but what choice do I have? Theresa asked me to go shopping with her. You can't shop without money. Um, well, actually, okay, so I was thinking, maybe you could, I'm not lending you money, dad says, reading my mind. You always do that, you always call me over here and ask me for money. You're so irresponsible with money, like that time you I ran out of time. - That's pretty bad, yeah, I mean it's not that bad but it's pretty bad. - It's pretty bad. - It was a lot of repeating and ums and ers and then the father sort of stating the obvious, like what the - Reminding him - Reminding the teen.
So how did you clean it up? - Well, I tried, I did my best in that limited amount of time. - Okay. - Here's what I wrote, dad, I yell from across the patio and watch my dad helplessly glance around looking for the source of the voice. Over here. Dad finally locates me on a lounge chair, scrolling through my phone. Jeez, Mariella, he says sounding frustrated, can't you just get up and talk to me? Do you have to yell all the time? Whatever, dad, I say, and immediately regret it, Dad hates when I say whatever, almost as much as he hates me yelling, and its just occurred to me that I probably shouldn't piss him off when I need to borrow some money from him.
He takes a deep breath, clearly trying to hold back his anger, what do you want? I fidget nervously with the case of my phone. I don't want to ask dad for money but what choice do I have? Theresa invited me to go shopping with her. You can't shop without money. I was hoping I could, I'm not lending you any money, dad says sternly. He must've read my hesitation. Not this time, you're old enough to earn your own money now. - Oh, yeah, that was definitely much better. - Much better, right? - Right, took a lot of ums and ers, put a lot more into her thoughts and then had her say that her father hates it when she does this instead of having the father state it.
In dialogue, yeah no, - It's still not my best piece of writing but it's improved. - And these prompts never are. - Right. - Either our best pieces of writing are probably not yours either. So it's to get you writing. - It's true. So what did you choose? - Well I did the boy and girl who are lost at the street corner. - Oh okay, great, what's your bad version? - My bad version? - Yeah. - Yeah, oh, this is my bad version. Oh no, oh no, no, no Raymond, no, no, I told you this would happen, Ellie yelled at her twin brother, I told you this back at the museum at 3:38 when we left through the lower level entrance that we, I told you that we would get lost if we walked on Park Street, I said we should walk on Green Street but you didn't listen, uh, hmm, well, I, I, I, Raymond stuttered as he looked at his cell phone.
It says on the doogle maps that it would take five minutes and 33 seconds to get to the ballet center at 5123 West Elm Street. Yes, but that's if you don't get lost. Ellie yelled again, no, no, no, she groaned again, I'm going to be late for ballet again. Last Wednesday I was late for ballet class. I arrived at 4:13 when I should've been there at 4:00 PM. And Mrs. Arroza, my ballet teacher, said, Ellie why are you late? And I told her it was your fault. I'm going to have to tell her. - Oh thank goodness you're done. (laughs) - I'm sorry, all the no's, it was hard work typing all the o's.
- Yeah, but I loved how you also, not only did you have a bad conversation with too many ums and too much explanation, but you also did a little bit of too much information in terms of description. - Oh, yeah. - You know, the address - No, yeah. - Like how long it took them to get places. - Exactly, yeah. - That was great. So how'd you clean it up? - This is how I cleaned it up. Ellie gave her brother a sharp nudge with her pointy elbow, I told you this would happen, she said with a pout. Raymond didn't look up and kept prodding and poking at the small old smartphone in his hand. Raymond, Ellie said, this time louder, I wish you'd listened to me back at the museum, I told you this was the wrong way to go.
Raymond looked up over the top of his glasses, it was the shorter route, he said, in his usual quiet stuttering way. Ellie slapped her forehead and groaned, Mrs. Arrazo is going to kill me again. - That was so much better! - (laughs) - Yeah it was like really spiffy and fun and, - You didn't miss the no's? - Maybe a little. (laughs) - And the times. Oh okay. Well we hope you had as much fun with your bad and then your good dialogue as we did.
- Creating memorable characters
- Writing dialogue
- Selecting a point of view
- Using an unreliable narrator
- Narrative style
- Building a setting
- Mood, atmosphere, and emotion
- Crafting a plot, from the setup to the resolution