Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Day 21

English 101 Summer 2010 Day 21


Narrative in Creative Non-fiction

  1. Characters
    1. You become a character
    2. Major ones should be round, have more than one attribute, change over time
    3. My father was a great guy v. Mosquitos would not bite him (186)
    4. Five senses


  1. Say
  2. Think
  3. Do
  4. Look like
  5. What others say
  6. Their past
  7. Names
  1. Scout, Cal, Dill
  2. Consistency, Complexity, (these first two are in tension) Individuality


  1. Naming exercise
  2. Senses/Images
  3. He/She was the kind of person who... (five telling details).
  4. How well do you know your characters.

Dialogue (187)




Tips on Dialogue

In two's: I'm sorry but…

  1. The first writer pulls out a piece of paper and begins their dialogue with the words "I'm sorry, but…". They complete the sentence and pass the journal to their partner.
  2. The partner, after reading the sentence, writes a line (or paragraph) of dialogue which heightens the tension.
  3. Keep passing the journal back and forth, trying to throw curve balls at one another without delving into the absurd.
  4. Try not to rely on dialogue tags to reveal how the character is speaking.
  5. In fact, don't use dialogue tags at all. Rely on your word choice and punctuation.

Movies with great dialogue: Tarantino, Juno, Linklater, Kevin Smith, Coen Brothers, David Mamet, Casablanca, China Town, Aaron Sorkin

Listen to how people talk to each other

  • Most of it is the weather.
  • He's like a bull in a china shop…
  • Eating out. Bars. Waiting rooms. Cell phone jerks. At the checkout.

Right now: Field work

  • Hub. (x8)
  • Deccio. (x3)
  • Lobby downstairs. (x4)
  • Lobby upstairs. (x4)
  • Library (x3)
  • Outside. (x2)

Come back in 15 minutes with dialogue.

Find a line or two.

More notes on dialogue:

Dialogue is not real speech, but it should sound like it.

  • Cut words and phrases that don't move things along

Don't use dialogue to provide exposition—keep it to three sentences or less

Break it up with action—remind us they are physical

Vary signal phrases, but keep it simple. Don't use elaborate signal phrases (she expostulated, he interjected)

Avoid stereotypes in dialect, but…

  • Huck Finn
  • To Kill a Mockingbird

Don't over use slang/profanity. "Slang goes sour in a short time." --EH

Read a lot. Note good/bad

Punctuate correctly

  • Use quotation marks?

Start a new paragraph when changing speakers.

Setting (187)

"If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it's not going to be fired, it shouldn't be hanging there."

–Anton Chekhov

  1. Time & Place (physical environment)
  2. TKAM

For example: Greasy Lake, Death of a Salesman, To Build a Fire, The Storm, Grapes of Wrath


  • Write about the time: (five minutes)
    • you watched light settle on the water
    • you saw the first smudge of dawn
    • you woke before the others

  • Write about something from memory that seems lit by a particular kind of light. (from Grapes of Wrath, Steinbeck)
  • There was this one tree.

5 w's


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