Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Writing Class - Number Two

Writing Exercise – Class Two

• Choose characters that are opposites

• Force tension. Make the characters have an argument and then be somewhere they can’t talk.

• Show a twist, people have secrets.

• Reveal by concealing (subtext)

• If you say the character talks slowly, you don’t… then… need… to… put… marks… after… every… word. It will annoy the reader.

• Dialogue should be used only for conflict.

• Read out your dialogue to make sure it sounds right.

• Different generations speak differently, for example an old lady might call someone “Miss”.

• Ray fights with his wife. His friends calls and asks what’s up. Ray clenches his teeth and says “Nothing.” The reader knows the truth, they have the inside track and know more than even Ray’s best friend.

Write for 10 minutes starting with the line “That night after the piano recital you were so angry at me.”

That night after the piano recital you were so angry at me.

You rotate, turn, move like the hands of a clock. Happy time, sad time, angry time. All with little or no provocation. Drama.

Little things mean a lot. Why can’t you let go?

Once you arrived early for class. You had been told to wait on the third floor, in the comfortable chairs, but the sign on the elevator said to check with security.

“Excuse me,” you said. “I’m just checking in. I’m here for my writing class and was told to wait on the third floor.” All smiles.


“Excuse me?” Clutches pearls.

“No, you’ll have to wait down here. The teacher will come get you.”

Shaken, dejected, spurned, wronged, you slink over to the corner. No, further in the corner than that. By the stairs, under the stairs, well, one foot resting in the area under the stairs. Just out of range of the janitor with the mop. Well, nearly out of range.

You pouted for 30 minutes until the teacher showed up. When he came, he said he could only get half the group at a time in the elevator. ‘Well, screw him!’ you thought. ‘I’ll be in the second group then. I’m not going to rush. I’ll show him!’ So petulant.

And as you waited for him to return for group two, thinking ‘I was here first! Why was I not in group one???’ you considered you might be over-reacting.

Possibly like that night at the piano recital?

Possibly like right now?

This week’s newspaper article, try to spot the characters:

Police say a woman involved in a five-vehicle crash in the northeast of the city fled the scene and tried to set herself on fire before she was taken to hospital with non life-threatening injuries.

A man is also in hospital in critical condition after the Wednesday evening crash, which closed down Bayview Ave. from Foxwarren Dr., just north of Sheppard, to Empress Ave, but police said his injuries are not life-threatening.

Police say the man, who is believed to be in his 50s, was hit in the head with a wooden two-by-four that left one of the vehicles and went through his windshield during the crash.

Staff Sgt. Frank Barredo said a woman left the crash scene and went one street south to a home on Foxwarren Dr.

“It appears she entered a house, turned on some gas elements, presumably to ignite them, but was later outside the house trying to set her hair on fire with a lighter,” said Barredo.

“She had injuries consistent with an auto collision,” he added.

The woman was not known to the residents of the home, located in a quiet, upscale neighbourhood, more than 1,000 metres from the crash scene.

“I just went out of the house to put out the garbage and she must have come in,” said an elderly female occupant who was shaken by the incident.

“As I was coming back around the corner, my neighbour yelled out to me ‘Doris, someone went in your house.’ I come in and sure enough, there’s a woman in the kitchen, leaning over the gas stove, with all the burners on trying to ignite herself.”

She said the woman appeared to be in her late twenties.

Hours after the incident, collision reconstruction units were on the scene trying to piece together events which left vehicles spread across the sidewalks on both sides of Bayview Ave.

Police said the man and woman who were sent to hospital were both drivers involved in the crash, which occurred at Bayview and Elmwood Aves. around 6 p.m.

The other three drivers were not seriously hurt, but several others involved in the accident suffered minor injuries.

Motorists are advised to avoid the area while police investigate.

One interpretation is the woman is trying to kill herself. But what if she was trying to make it look like she was more injured that she actually was in an attempt to shift the blame? What if the old woman in the house also had a secret?

Homework – write a page of dialogue

I stepped outside while he entered the alarm code and locked the door. There was always an easy camaraderie between us as we locked up after our shift and walked to his car.

I started a little ahead, he soon caught up. The night air was warm, end of summer but not yet fall.

A mother and son passed us on the sidewalk, going in the direction we had just came from.

“That boy looks like Macaulay Culkin.” He said.

“Back off! That one’s mine! I saw him first.”

“A little young, isn’t he?”

“Old enough to pee, old enough for me.”

We crossed the street to his car. He stopped for a second on the road and looked at me.

“That kind of thing will land you in prison getting raped every night.”

“Where’s the down side?”

Talk 2 Strangers

Breaking the Ice: Look to the moment for inspiration. Talk about the place or space you’re in.
Small Talk: Introvert or Extrovert? Cats vs. Dogs? Mountains or Beaches? Tobogganing vs. Walking?
Deeper Talk: What are you sure of? What makes you the person that you are? What is the Good Life?
The Graceful Exit: “It was nice talking to you…” shake the person’s hand, then bid yourself adieu.

“Hey, you’re a facilitator, it says so one your sash. Facilitate me please.”

“Sure, follow me.”

We walk through the crowds of people, he with confidence, never turning around to check if I’m there. We reach the top of the steps and he talks to a handsome young Indian man.

“Hi, my name is John. What’s your name?”


“I’m Adam.”

“Great. If you could have any super power, what would it be?”

Lots of thinking among us. Anand speaks first.

“I would have the ability to teleport.”

“What would you do with that?”

“Well, I don’t know. I’d have the freedom to go places though…”

John pipes in excitedly, “I would have the ability to be on fire and throw fire and be fire man and do things with fire!”

“What about the summer? Wouldn’t you get hot?”

“No man, I’d be on fire.”

“I would have the ability to see through people’s clothes.”

General laughter.

“See, I think my idea is the best idea. Like you, you can’t think of anywhere you want to teleport to, and you I don’t think have anything in mind you want to burn, but I can think of actual people I want to see naked, RIGHT NOW!”

General laughter.

“But like everyone? Would you want to see everyone naked through their clothes?”

“Oooh, good point. It would have to be selective. I would have to be able to turn it on and off.”

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