Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Writing fiction for women's magazines - workshop in Huddersfield.

I ran a day long workshop on writing fiction for women's magazines on November 15th and it went well. The emphasis of the workshop is on getting work published in this niche area even though some of the information can be used in writing generally.

The workshop will run again on Saturday 28th February 2015 at The Lawrence Batley Theatre in Huddersfield and another Saddleworth location is to be confirmed. Same Price (£35) and conditions as before. Booking essential.


Monday, 24 November 2014

Dining room dialogue

Listening to other people's conversations can sometimes be intriguing. Over the weekend my family has been celebrating and this has involved eating out in restaurants. I am so curious about other people and have enjoyed finding out, by eavesdropping, what people at neighbouring tables have been celebrating too. Birthdays, anniversaries, retirements... so many cakes with candles and overheard speeches.
Some people eat too much, drink too much and say too much. Petty squabbles break out and relationships are sealed or damaged in such close quarters.
This brings me to dialogue. The most frustrating part of eavesdropping, for a curious person like me, is not knowing the back stories and events that people share. This means that sometimes I haven't understood what a conversation was about or I've had to guess.
When writing dialogue it is important to establish the nature of a relationship by what is said and also what is not said.

For example, two people on a first date might not know each other's favourite foods. It would be acceptable for one to ask the other.

'D'you like pasta?'

and the other to reply

'I love it.'

A sense of newness is conveyed.

If  two people who had known each other for twenty five years were eating at a restaurant they wouldn't ask this question. If they did it would seem odd. Instead one might say.

'I think I'll order the spaghetti bolognaise.'    

and the other might reply

'Not again.'

Here a sense of knowing someone who always orders spaghetti to the point of irritation is conveyed.

To try your dialogue skills out ...

  1. Pick a place to eat - greasy spoon or very posh as long as there are several tables.
  2. Focus on four tables with 2-4 people sitting at them.
  3. Decide what conversation is taking place at each and remember to give each person a motive that determines what they say, mean and ultimately want. Think about the reasons for them being together, such as reunions, affairs, business......
  4. Give each table 5 minutes of dialogue each. This dialogue should form a story with a start middle and end so that four complete stories are being told through words. Then mix the pages so that the conversations run into one another and form interesting juxtapositions. This will add to the tension and anticipation.

This could create a twenty minute one act play if you worked at it and edited it carefully. You might get something else from it. 
The idea isn't new. The playwright Terence Rattigan wrote two one act plays collectively called Separate Tables. Have a look at how he went about the subject.


separate tables terence rattigan