Read Books By AWers!

Welcome to the AbsoluteWrite Water Cooler! Please read The Newbie Guide To Absolute Write

editing for authors ad

A publisher or agency using Google ads to solicit your novel probably isn't anyone you want to write for.


Go Back   Absolute Write Water Cooler > General Writing Interest > Short Fiction
Register FAQ Calendar Mark Forums Read

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-21-2013, 10:26 PM   #1
blueframe
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 16
blueframe is on a distinguished road
Two characters talking.

I am working on a short story and while there are bookend "action" scenes, the main conflict takes place between two people talking.

The way I am visualizing it now, a man and woman are sitting in a diner, having coffee, while he is trying to convince her to do something she doesn't want to do. There is a lot of dialogue around their shared history and a tragic event. The stakes are very high but the bulk of the story is essentially "two people sitting in a room talking". They leave the diner for the final scene and it is mostly action.

I am wondering if there are some good authors/stories that could show how to handle this type of conflict so it could work without being too "boring". Where the conflict is essentially two people talking.

Thanks!
blueframe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-21-2013, 11:54 PM   #2
Tinman
practical experience, FTW
 
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Southeast Missouri
Posts: 250
Tinman is well-respected
Blueframe. Welcome to the site.

The only thing I can think of offhand is a Stephen King story called The Boogeyman. It's about a man telling a story to a psychiatrist. It's in his Nightshift collection. I'm sure there are many others. Good luck!!
Tinman is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2013, 02:41 AM   #3
guttersquid
Riding the crest of a slump.
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: California, U.S.A.
Posts: 814
guttersquid is a splendid one to beholdguttersquid is a splendid one to beholdguttersquid is a splendid one to behold
Your post suggests that you fear the middle part of your story, between the exciting beginning and exciting ending, will be boring. But dialogue is not boring unless you write boring dialogue.

Consider this: "Twelve people in a jury room argue about a case." That's the basic description of 12 Angry Men. Nothing boring there.
guttersquid is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2013, 05:00 AM   #4
blueframe
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 16
blueframe is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tinman View Post
Blueframe. Welcome to the site.

The only thing I can think of offhand is a Stephen King story called The Boogeyman. It's about a man telling a story to a psychiatrist. It's in his Nightshift collection. I'm sure there are many others. Good luck!!
Thanks Tinman. I got the book today.
blueframe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2013, 05:03 AM   #5
blueframe
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 16
blueframe is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by guttersquid View Post
Your post suggests that you fear the middle part of your story, between the exciting beginning and exciting ending, will be boring. But dialogue is not boring unless you write boring dialogue.

Consider this: "Twelve people in a jury room argue about a case." That's the basic description of 12 Angry Men. Nothing boring there.
Hi Guttersquid,

Thanks for the comment and you make a very good point. I am concerned that a scene with just dialogue and some minimal action (ordering coffee, drinking coffee, etc.) will be slow. I wanted to see if it has been done in a successful way or if I should switch gears altogether. Your "12 Angry Men" reference is a good one.
blueframe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2013, 08:08 AM   #6
AKyber36
practical experience, FTW
 
AKyber36's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 228
AKyber36 is on a distinguished road
A good short story by Ernest Hemingway that has a similar approach is "Hills Like White Elephants." I thought of that when you began mentioning your premise, and it might make for a good observation to see how he handled it.
__________________
Current WIP: Untitled short story - 5,663 words
Four Stars, No Stripes (working title) - 31,175 words (On hiatus)
AKyber36 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2013, 08:11 AM   #7
blueframe
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 16
blueframe is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by AKyber36 View Post
A good short story by Ernest Hemingway that has a similar approach is "Hills Like White Elephants." I thought of that when you began mentioning your premise, and it might make for a good observation to see how he handled it.
I did read this story! Thanks very much for the suggestion. It is a good one.
blueframe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2013, 09:01 PM   #8
flapperphilosopher
practical experience, FTW
 
flapperphilosopher's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Canada
Posts: 640
flapperphilosopher has a spectacular auraflapperphilosopher has a spectacular aura
I immediately thought Hemingway too... he has a lot of stories that are mostly two people talking. His short story collection "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" has a lot of them, you might try that. Maybe even look at some plays to see how high stakes can be in a scene of "just" talking... a different format but a helpful learning tool. Tennessee Williams is a good one to look at.
flapperphilosopher is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-22-2013, 09:07 PM   #9
Patrick.S
practical experience, FTW
 
Patrick.S's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Vermont
Posts: 450
Patrick.S has a spectacular auraPatrick.S has a spectacular aura
Quote:
Originally Posted by guttersquid View Post
Consider this: "Twelve people in a jury room argue about a case." That's the basic description of 12 Angry Men. Nothing boring there.
That was the first thing that jumped into my head too.
Patrick.S is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 12:23 AM   #10
blueframe
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 16
blueframe is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by flapperphilosopher View Post
I immediately thought Hemingway too... he has a lot of stories that are mostly two people talking. His short story collection "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" has a lot of them, you might try that. Maybe even look at some plays to see how high stakes can be in a scene of "just" talking... a different format but a helpful learning tool. Tennessee Williams is a good one to look at.
Great suggestions! Thanks!
blueframe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 03:26 AM   #11
Mrs. de Winter
Eating cookies
 
Mrs. de Winter's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2012
Posts: 43
Mrs. de Winter is on a distinguished road
Check out Nathan Englander's stories, like the title story in "What We Talk about When We Talk About Anne Frank." Or "A Temporary Matter," by Jhumpa Lahiri (you can find it in her book, Interpreter of Maladies)
Mrs. de Winter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2013, 06:57 AM   #12
AKyber36
practical experience, FTW
 
AKyber36's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 228
AKyber36 is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by blueframe View Post
I did read this story! Thanks very much for the suggestion. It is a good one.
I read it as part of high school language arts class. We analyzed the conversation, and it was very meaningful. It's perhaps one of my favorite Hemingway shorts on how to do a story with primarily nuanced dialogue.
__________________
Current WIP: Untitled short story - 5,663 words
Four Stars, No Stripes (working title) - 31,175 words (On hiatus)
AKyber36 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2013, 01:29 AM   #13
WriterBN
practical experience, FTW
 
WriterBN's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: Delaware
Posts: 572
WriterBN is well-respected
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. de Winter View Post
Or "A Temporary Matter," by Jhumpa Lahiri (you can find it in her book, Interpreter of Maladies)
Probably my all-time favorite collection of short fiction.
__________________
Bombay Bhel, collection of short fiction: Amazon || Saturday Date (A Short Story) FREE Kindle, Kobo, iBooks, Nook || www.k-doyle.com
WriterBN is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-24-2013, 07:30 PM   #14
Sai
Book lover/Spy
 
Sai's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Back home
Posts: 2,392
Sai has a golden reputationSai has a golden reputationSai has a golden reputationSai has a golden reputationSai has a golden reputationSai has a golden reputation
There's a few Lovecraft stories where it's just two people talking, like 'The Picture in the House.' You can read it online here:
http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/...iction/ph.aspx

You could also check out this flash fiction story I wrote. I like to think that it works well as a 'just two people talking' story.
http://dailysciencefiction.com/fanta.../a-special-day
__________________
A Year on Saturn <--- My site/blog

Absolute Visions now on sale!

Kuri-ousity.com
The site for manga news and reviews.


Sai is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-26-2013, 09:14 PM   #15
blueframe
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 16
blueframe is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mrs. de Winter View Post
Check out Nathan Englander's stories, like the title story in "What We Talk about When We Talk About Anne Frank." Or "A Temporary Matter," by Jhumpa Lahiri (you can find it in her book, Interpreter of Maladies)
Thanks very much for the suggestion!
blueframe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-26-2013, 09:16 PM   #16
blueframe
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 16
blueframe is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sai View Post
There's a few Lovecraft stories where it's just two people talking, like 'The Picture in the House.' You can read it online here:
http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/...iction/ph.aspx

You could also check out this flash fiction story I wrote. I like to think that it works well as a 'just two people talking' story.
http://dailysciencefiction.com/fanta.../a-special-day

I will check them out! Thanks!
blueframe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-26-2013, 11:50 PM   #17
cathyfreeze
I lost my fever! I need it back!
 
cathyfreeze's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: South TX
Posts: 1,159
cathyfreeze leaves trails of profuse coolnesscathyfreeze leaves trails of profuse coolnesscathyfreeze leaves trails of profuse coolnesscathyfreeze leaves trails of profuse coolnesscathyfreeze leaves trails of profuse coolness
Quote:
Originally Posted by AKyber36 View Post
A good short story by Ernest Hemingway that has a similar approach is "Hills Like White Elephants." I thought of that when you began mentioning your premise, and it might make for a good observation to see how he handled it.
~That was the first story that sprang to my mind, AKyber36. It's two people talking but characters, mysteries, horrors are revealed and it keeps you riveted.

It's online fulltext here

__________________
Be obscure clearly. ~E.B. White

"Soylent Green is people!" ~Robert Thorn
it's the power of the penis that compels them~ muravyets
cathyfreeze is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-27-2013, 08:09 AM   #18
AKyber36
practical experience, FTW
 
AKyber36's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 228
AKyber36 is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by cathyfreeze View Post
~That was the first story that sprang to my mind, AKyber36. It's two people talking but characters, mysteries, horrors are revealed and it keeps you riveted.

It's online fulltext here

Ah, you found a great link!

Yeah, what Hemingway did great in this was how vague but obvious the topic might have been between the two. Our whole class kept thinking he was pressuring her into having an abortion, but in the end, who knows? The intrigue from the dialogue is amazing, though.
__________________
Current WIP: Untitled short story - 5,663 words
Four Stars, No Stripes (working title) - 31,175 words (On hiatus)
AKyber36 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-28-2013, 10:42 PM   #19
Joel Stottlemire
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 12
Joel Stottlemire is on a distinguished road
My Dinner With Andre

This sounds a lot like the setup for "My Dinner with Andre." You might give it a peek.

Joel, Editor
www.thedrydenexperiment.com
Joel Stottlemire is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2013, 04:38 AM   #20
blueframe
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 16
blueframe is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by Joel Stottlemire View Post
This sounds a lot like the setup for "My Dinner with Andre." You might give it a peek.

Joel, Editor
www.thedrydenexperiment.com
Good idea! Thanks!
blueframe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-01-2013, 06:31 PM   #21
JimHeskett
Writers gon write.
 
JimHeskett's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Colorado
Posts: 262
JimHeskett is well-respected
dialogue doesn't have to be boring. Give each character something they want, and make their wants conflict or compete. And what they want comes out in the conversation... but not too on the nose. Use subtext... people rarely say exactly what they're thinking.
__________________
"If it sounds like writing, rewrite it" - Elmore Leonard
JimHeskett is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 03:02 AM   #22
squishytheduck
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 12
squishytheduck is on a distinguished road
These are called cafe shorts, I believe. Hemingway has another I like called A Clean Well-Lighted Place. Here is a link to a website with other examples and critical analysis:
http://realtimeshortstories.wordpres...y/cafe-shorts/
squishytheduck is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 04:40 AM   #23
blueframe
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 16
blueframe is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by JimHeskett View Post
dialogue doesn't have to be boring. Give each character something they want, and make their wants conflict or compete. And what they want comes out in the conversation... but not too on the nose. Use subtext... people rarely say exactly what they're thinking.
Thanks for the tips!
blueframe is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-08-2013, 09:11 PM   #24
Coeus
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Canada
Posts: 34
Coeus is on a distinguished road
I actually love dialogue scenes. They can be the most interesting parts of a story depending on how they're done.

Think of a film: Aside from bombastic action scenes and the like, all the writing in the film is dialogue. Even better, think of a play. There's pretty much only dialogue.

Dialogue between characters is a fantastic opportunity to show the reader what they're made of. Usually this is accomplished through conflict-- that doesn't mean they need to have an all out fight, but small disagreements provide ample opportunity to explore both the plot and the characters through dialogue.
__________________
Coeus is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 03-10-2013, 09:31 PM   #25
blueframe
New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Posts: 16
blueframe is on a distinguished road
Quote:
Originally Posted by Coeus View Post
I actually love dialogue scenes. They can be the most interesting parts of a story depending on how they're done.

Think of a film: Aside from bombastic action scenes and the like, all the writing in the film is dialogue. Even better, think of a play. There's pretty much only dialogue.

Dialogue between characters is a fantastic opportunity to show the reader what they're made of. Usually this is accomplished through conflict-- that doesn't mean they need to have an all out fight, but small disagreements provide ample opportunity to explore both the plot and the characters through dialogue.
Thanks so much Coeus for your response. It is very encouraging.

Thanks to everyone again for your feedback I feel very motivated to complete my story and am not as concerned that "two characters talking" will slow down the momentum!
blueframe is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump

Custom Search

If this site is helpful to you,
Please consider a voluntary subscription to defray ongoing expenses.

Buy Scrivener 2 for Mac OS X (Regular Licence)


All times are GMT +4.5. The time now is 07:18 AM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.5
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.