Make them Match (Saturday Writing Essential)

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on September 15, 2012 0 Comments

I had one challenge back in 2010 that I really liked and most of the members seemed to also. We have enough new members that I think it’s time to bring back this one. Because I really like the way I presented it the first time, I’m including the original challenge with some minor editing…

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In the fiction arena, we use exposition to set a scene or describe a person. We try to use dialogue whenever possible, but there are still those times that we have to stick in a paragraph or two describing something.

First scenario.

Sam glanced in the mirror of the elevator to ensure his tie was properly knotted — it was, of course. He checked the diamond tie tack to make sure it was perfectly centered — it was, of course. He started to run his hand across his hair and then realized that every strand was in its place. He looked at his Rolex and saw that he was exactly 45 seconds early for his appointment as a gong sounded and the doors opened. Walking into the reception area, he immediately noticed the gorgeous blonde receptionist. Putting on his best smile, Sam advanced on the young woman.

At the reception counter, he barely managed to stutter, “Uh, hi, I’m Sam, and, uh, I think I have an appointment with Mr. Peterson.”

Second scenario.

Sam idly looked in the mirror of the elevator and noticed that his tie was somewhat askew, but was too busy thinking about how to pitch his new idea to do anything about it. Without any kind of tie tack, he shoved the end of his tie into his belt to hold it straight. He stood there thinking about the pluses and minuses of his proposal as he ran his hand through his unruly hair and finally settled for sweeping it straight back from his forehead. When the gong sounded, he glanced at his Timex, saw that he was 45 seconds early for his appointment, and figured that would give him just enough time to mentally settle his arguments. Walking into the reception area he immediately noticed the gorgeous blonde receptionist and fell completely apart as he nervously approached her.

He leaned down, casually, on the counter and smoothly said, “Good morning, my dear, I’m Sam and I believe that Mr. Peterson is expecting me.”

* * *

Did you notice the major goof I made in each of those scenarios? Of course, the dialogue for each one is wrong — they should have been reversed to match the character.

Look at how Sam comes across in each one of the first paragraphs and how it sets the tone for the rest of the story. Then note that the dialogue throws the reader completely off the track. Writing dialogue that matches the character is critical.

I’m going to ask you to be honest with your reader in this challenge. Yes, there might be a situation where you want your reader to think one thing and then twist things around later, but that’s beyond the scope of this challenge. If you have a ragged hobo jumping off a train and, approaching the night watchman, asking how to get to the airport because he has to catch a flight to Seattle, make sure you put something in the expository paragraph explaining what’s going on.

 

This Week’s Challenge:

Write a paragraph of exposition followed by one sentence of dialogue. Write a second paragraph of exposition that contrasts with the first paragraph and follow that with a sentence of dialogue. The idea is to match the dialogue with the character you’ve developed in the expository paragraph.

I try to make my challenges poetry-friendly but I’m not sure how you’d do this in poetry. Maybe two stanzas of exposition followed by one stanza of dialogue and then repeat that pattern with everything reversed or negative.

 

 

Ideas:

Have Sam (1) as the ultimate sexual object while Sam (2) is someone that no woman would ever want to talk to.

Write about Sue (1) as a hero of the federation and Sue (2) as being tried for sedition.

SamX-201 is the most advanced version of his series of robots. SamX-003 is outdated, worn out, and ready for the scrap heap.

  

Watch Out For:

Can’t think of a lot of things to avoid. The idea is to write two contrasting stories. Make sure that one shows positive attributes of your protagonist and the other shows a more negative side of him/her.

The main thing is to make sure that your one line of dialogue matches the character of your protagonist that you’ve described. Again, don’t put in some surprise that isn’t supported by the exposition. Honest, we’ll get to that in a future challenge.

  

Recap:

Oh, these responses are so cool. If you haven’t read anything interesting in the past hour or so, you owe it to yourself (and the authors) to run over and check out the following submissions.

Big Problems Often Have Simple Solutions (SatWE-Your turn)  by Virginia M.

MACHINES DO COME TO LIFE; WHEN MOMMY’S NOT ARROUND by Phillip DeNise

The Grass Is Greener (Saturday Writing Essential)  by Len Maxwell

the grass is greener satwe sept 8  by karen vaughan

Your Turn! (Sat WE) The Grass is Greener by Vj McMullan

Your Turn! (Saturday Writing Essential) Shredded jeans by Pam Brittain

 

Weekly reminder: Don’t forget to recommend an article that you like (to learn why, read Ann Marcaida’s article Attract More Writers and Artists to Gather!). Also, try to place a comment on at least one article and say more than you liked the piece. Tell the author what worked and what needs work.

 

The Rules:

  • Put this challenge statement at the beginning or end of your submission so readers will know what you’re supposed to do.

Challenge: Write a paragraph of exposition followed by one sentence of dialogue. Write a second paragraph of exposition that contrasts with the first paragraph and follow that with a sentence of dialogue. The idea is to match the dialogue with the character you’ve developed in the expository paragraph.

I try to make my challenges poetry-friendly but I’m not sure how you’d do this in poetry. Maybe two stanzas of exposition followed by one stanza of dialogue and then repeat that pattern with everything reversed or negative.

  • There is a limit of three submissions from each member per day. If you’re extremely prolific, spread out your work and post only three submissions per day.
  • Post to Gather Writing Essential.
  • Tag your submission with SatWE.
  • Include (Saturday Writing Essential) as part of your title.
  • I ask that you make your submission(s) by next Friday afternoon.

Good Writing!

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