I am pleased to report that the battery of physicians and psychiatrists who monitor my well-being on a daily basis have at long last declared me fit to proceed with another contest!
You remember the last one? The one I’m not even linking to because clicking over to it may crash your computer?
Well. This one will be even more preposterously magnificent than all of the others combined, as it arises out of this imponderable question: what makes good dialogue… good?
I don’t really know. I know it when I see it, but what does good dialogue have in common? Do we really know? I don’t. Let’s find out!
Here are the contest rules, which may be amended with zesty randomness and are subject to my own interpretations and opinions, which are known to be both feckless and strongly held. You’ve been warned.
1. Please enter up-to-but-not-exceeding 250 words of dialogue and supporting description in an entry in the comments section of this blog post. The balance between dialogue and supporting description is up to your discretion, bearing in mind that this is a dialogue contest and not a supporting description contest.
b. You may enter once, and once you may enter.
*. Spreading the word about the contest is not only encouraged, it is strongly encouraged.
5. Snarky anonymous comments about entries, the weather, Barbaro the horse, Norman Mailer and/or any other subject will be deleted with relish. This is a free speech zone, or rather the opposite thereof.
f. Against strenuous doctors orders, I will be the sole judge of the contest this time.
T. The deadline for this contest is 5:00 PM Pacific Time on Wednesday May 21st. Finalists will be announced Thursday morning, and you will have the opportunity to vote on the winner, which will be announced on Friday.
PRIZES. The ultimate grand prize deluxe winner will receive the satisfaction of knowing they have written some seriously awesome dialogue, and will have a choice of a query critique, partial critique, or 10 minute phone conversation. Runners-up will receive a query critique or other agreed-upon prize.
Let the dialogue about dialogue begin!
7:32 Eastern equals 4:32 Pacific, right? I’ll squeeze this in:
Shelley had packed all the traditional favourites: chicken, crusty bread, cheese and wine. A couple of crisp Granny Smith apples rounded off the feast.
Travis leaned against the rough bark of the willow tree and ripped through a chicken thigh with gusto.
“So…” He wiped his lips. “What turns you on about me?”
“That’s a stupid question.” She poured a glass of wine.
“Not so stupid. Don’t you want me to keep myself up for you?”
“You always keep yourself up for me, you horny bastard.”
“I don’t mean that. What special thing floats your boat?”
Shelley flopped beside him and laid her head in his lap. She tucked her chin against her chest and carefully sipped. “Nothing. Everything.”
“That’s a cop out and you know it. C’mon, fess up.” He held his wineglass over her head and tilted it at a dangerous angle.
She splayed her fingers across her face and giggled. “Put that down or I’ll scream.”
“Not ’til you tell me.” He lowered the glass anyway and took another bite of chicken.
She relaxed. “About you? I’d have to say that little spot just behind your earlobe.”
His deep chuckle warmed her heart. “I guess I can safely stop going to the gym if that’s all ya got.”
Shelley turned her head and gazed across the meadow. She closed her eyes and listened to the crisp rattle of willow leaves in the wind. The tiniest pleasures held such importance, such significance. She must remember all of this.
“What are we doing here so early?” Mark griped.
He knew he was talking to himself as he heard her wrestling with the Twizzler package next to him.
“Six freakin’ commercials and two previews. They just about showed us the whole movie to.”
He waited for her to say something, but the Twizzler package must be open because he could hear her chewing.
“God, I hope this isn’t like that movie we saw last week. I mean, who talks like that. No one goes into a bookstore and talks like that. I want a book. That’s it. Not I’m looking for something which will transcend me to a new level of reality the minute I take in the opening page.”
He shivered just thinking about it. “God, that sucked.”
He looked around and saw that the theater was filling up. She nudged him to ask if he would like a piece of candy.
“I mean, it ain’t brain surgery. Give me a million bucks and I can come up with a good story instead of most of the crap they make today.”
He readjusted himself in his seat. His soapbox was getting uncomfortable.
“And that movie got good reviews too,” he whined.
A rotund man in a red parka splashed down next to him. He rolled his eyes and leaned closer to her. She was chewing in his ear.
“It’s not dialogue–it’s jibber jabber. How hard is that?” Mark whispered as the subtitles appeared on the screen.
“Oh, God,” he gagged.
Mr. Red Parka just farted.
Inside Alex’s office, I explain the entire story to her, sans all the shooting and killing. She sits back on her raggedy chair that’s been ready to collapse since Nixon.
“You can’t just leave the girl here.”
I knew she was going to say that.
“What am I supposed to do? Tote her around while I go hunting for bad guys?”
“No, you’re supposed to do what any normal human being would have done.”
“Call the police, Enzo. What world do you live in?”
“Calling the cops wasn’t exactly an option, alright?”
“She can’t stay here. I have to call child services.”
“There’ll be questions. Where’s she from? What she’s been through? God, why is it always so damn hard for you to do the right thing?”
“I saved her, didn’t I?”
“Yea and now you’re dumping her, just like everything else.”
“I don’t dump everything on you, Alex. Give me some credit.”
“You’re right. It’s not just me. You give your fair share to the other idiots dumb enough to get close to you.”
“That’s messed up.”
“No Enzo, you’re messed up!” She stands and stabs me with her pointed finger. “You’re pushing me somewhere that I can’t protect you.”
“I couldn’t leave her there.”
“Maybe you should have thought about that. God forbid you think before you act.”
“I’m not listening to this.” I turn away.
“Don’t you leave Enzo. Don’t you leave her here.”
“I never asked for your protection.” I swing her door open and walk out.
“’Cause you’re too stupid to protect yourself.”
Twenty-four hours of traveling, France to the States, were not going to stop me from checking my mail.
“I know it’s three in the morning but I can’t sleep until I’ve checked my messages.” “My brother is due stateside by the end of the month and he could have sent something.” My husband snored back his reply.
Flipping on the computer, the screen illuminated my desktop with its fuzzy blue. The inbox was loaded, four hundred and eighty messages. Scanning through the crap, I realized there was nothing from my brother who was scheduled to leave the frontlines of Iraq anyday.
“I suppose you’re down to counting minutes and seconds.” “I meant to get a note off to you before I left on my trip; France was great.”
“So, are you ready for that little houseboat you’ve always dreamed of?” “I can’t believe you’ve been in since you were seventeen, that’s over twenty years of your life!” “You’ve more than done your time.”
“Since you were three and riding around in your little army jeep, you’ve been playing war.” “It’s time to come home and play family.” “Hope you can handle the transition.”
“I just wanted you to know I’ve got you covered; I’m going to pray you in for a safe landing.”
“As soon as you can, drop me a line and let me know all’s well.”
“I love you.”
Thanks for running the contest!
“Camellia,” the witch said. Her manicured fingers tapped the crisp white sheets. “I am going to take over the world.”
“Whatevs,” I said. The witch is always coming up with new plans to take over the world. The last one involved me releasing divebombing doves in the courthouse.
She stuck out her mini bedside wand and zapped my hand with four papercuts. “Impertinence. Now listen. This time I’m starting with a demon.”
“A demon?” That was serious. “Don’t you think you should go back to doves?”
“A demon,” said the witch firmly. “I’m going to put his spirit into that plastic mannequin I got from Thrifteez. I have the scheme all worked out. Now, I’m summoning him this very afternoon, so I need you to bring me one cup of goats’ blood to animate the mannequin.”
She eyed me like I was going to complain about where to find goats’ blood, but goats’ blood is sooo old news. I’ve got a supplier. I was much more concerned about this demon nonsense. “Anything else?” I said. 31 seconds till the school bus left without me.
“Three fresh roses and a dried pig’s ear. Oh, and a loaf of bread, you know the crusty kind I like, with olives?”
“Seen it, got it, on it,” I said. And hightailed it for the bus.
“Look at it this way. I know about that shit, and I still choose to hang out with you. Besides…” She looked around the apartment. “You’re not quite out on the street. If you were doing that horribly, you’d have sold all this stuff for gambling money.”
She waved an arm around the room, taking in the leather furniture, the shelves overflowing with books and the coffee table, which was a realistic diorama of a trout stream. She peered into the glass top of the table. “This is the funkiest thing I’ve ever seen.”
“I know. I love that table. Impy bought most of this stuff. I wouldn’t dream of gambling with his money.”
“Obviously. Where is that food?”
“Patience, my dear.”
“Craig, I could eat a goddamn horse! Hey, how about Cooter? Horse is a delicacy in France.”
“You leave Cooter out of your evil schemes.”
“Seriously, what are you going to do with him? He can’t run, or doesn’t want to.”
“Well, get rid of him.”
“He has other laudable qualities.”
“I think Maya’s in love with him. Don’t laugh! She’s only just shown me the tip of her talent. She’s gonna run her ass off to impress her big black boyfriend, and I’ll look like a genius by the end of the year.”
“You’re just soft.”
“How would you know?”
She punched him in the shoulder.
“Three older brothers,” she said as a kind of apology.
on my way to puerto rico says
I stared out the airplane window and saw other planes take off. It didn’t hit me until that moment. “Mami, are we flying to Puerto Rico?”
“The plane is going to drive us there,” she said. Relieved by her response, I strapped myself in the seat.
“Yes, it is,” whispered Karina.
“Yes, what?,” I asked
“The plane is going to fly.”
“No it’s not. Mami! Mami! Tell Karina that we’re driving to Puerto Rico.”
“If we are driving, then why don’t we take our car?”
Before I could respond, Mami said, “Because we don’t have enough gas in the car. Now leave Mija alone.”
WitLiz Today says
Carrying a bottle of water, the young teen found Hank, the homeless man he’d been searching for, sitting on a bench in the blistering heat of Waterfront Park. Jonah held the bottle out. A peace offering.
Hank turned up his nose. “Being so great, I have no need to beg.”
“Oh, yeah?” Jonah snorted. “Well, you git any ‘greater’, man, an’ beggin’ won’t be a option no more. Know whut I mean?”
A faint smile touched Hanks lips. “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a naughty world.”
Jonah rolled his eyes and changed the subject. “Why ain’t you got no home, anyways?”
“The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together. What is past is prologue.”
“Whut? Man, can’t you talk normal?” Jonah’s brow darkened. “Oh, I git it. Your fam’ly dump your ass. Shit, I know how that be. Well, fuck ’em!”
“I understand a fury in your words. But not the words.”
“An’ I don’ understand your words for shit, man. So we even.”
“I hold the world but not as the world, Puck. A stage where every man must play a part. And mine a sad one.”
“Sad? It be way fucked up, man. Now drink. Or you is gonna die.” Jonah placed the bottle on the bench.
Hank touched it, murmuring, “I care not; a man can die but once: we owe God a death: and let it go which way it will, he that dies this year is quit for the next.”
Mary Danielson says
“Oliver.“ His name escaped from her throat on a shriek.
“Nope, sorry Ace. Those are from Martin.”
“He said to take all the time you need to rest and to work again when you feel better.” Miles set the flowers on the sun-soaked window ledge.
“Probably happy I’m not messing with his back room chi,” Eza mumbled.
“You, a chi-destroyer? Never, Ace.”
Miles looked confused. “Uh…so, how’re you feeling, E?”
Eza shrugged. “I‘m supposed to go home in the morning. How come you’re out already?” The question was directed at Oliver, who was sneaking some of the chocolate piled up on the counter.
“The nurses liked me better.”
Miles gave a snort of disbelief. “Or, they practically shoved him out of here, he was such a bad patient.”
“I was fine.”
“Broken wrist and concussion fine.”
“I’m alive, aren’t I?”
“Thanks to Eza.”
Oliver looked over to her. “He’s right. You saved the day, Ace.”
“Only after you broke the window and got us outside.”
“Where I was so much help. Being knocked unconscious by a rock and all.”
“No, if it hadn’t been for you-”
“You would have been just fine? You would have run away before the damn building exploded? Yeah, okay.”
Miles threw up his hands to cut off the argument. “Stop. You both did everything possible. Though why either one of you were there at all it a mystery”
They spoke at the same time. “I got your note.”
Nathan Bransford says
Time’s up! Thanks to everyone for entering!! Stay tuned for the results.