writing prompt: dialog

This book I mentioned the other day? I should have been more specific. Here it is, as you can see. The Writer’s Book of Matches: 1,001 prompts to ignite your fiction.

The friend who sent this book to me is a very profilic author and also one of those people who has a nose for finding interesting books you wouldn’t have run into any other way. This book is a case in point. There are three kinds of prompts: situation, dialog and assignment. The example from the other day (about the phone sex worker) is a situation prompt. Looking through the book, the situation prompts are pretty uneven. Some don’t work for me at all, some would work with tweaking. Some are pretty good.

The dialog prompts are really interesting. Starting a scene or a story with a bit of dialog is very effective, but hard to pull off well. I thought it might be interesting to look at some of the dialog prompts in this book of matches. Here’s one:

“Helpful hint: wait until you’re sober before trying that again.”

As a first line this has a lot of possibilities. The pov character is talking to herself, I think. She’s looking in the bathroom mirror at her hair, which yesterday was shoulder length and reddish-blond, but today is hacked off, purple and moussed into spikes. She’s late for work, where she will undoubtedly run into her older sister, who is also the CEO. And wasn’t today the day the auditors were coming? Which would mean that the drinking as got out of hand, and she’s got two choices: give up booze, or quit the family business.

I could come up with three or four other possibilities for this opening dialog. One roommate to another as they contemplate a completely disasterous birthday cake made under the influence. A stranger in an expensive suit to a teenager who has wiped out on his skateboard. In that case I see violence coming.

Any thoughts on where this opening line might go?

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7 Replies to “writing prompt: dialog”

  1. Susan, what a great surprise to see your dancing pixels. Now that you’ve joined the blogosphere I hope you’ll be around a lot. I’ve got your weblog (and very elegant looking it is, too) on my sidebar now.

    r

  2. Probably because I’m watching Mean Girls, I see this opening line as a text message from one teen to another. The recipient is hoping to heck that there weren’t any camera phones present at the time. But there were.

  3. Pam I also took it as snarky teenage girlspeak.

    I imagined a girl at a bar saying this to her friend after she went up and sang the worst karaoke version of I Will Survive ever.

    Or maybe a girl is saying this to her injured boyfriend as they sit in the emergency room…

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