A Silent Dialogue

A Silent Dialogue


✍🏼 Your Challenge, Should You Choose to Accept it ...

Try writing a script where two characters are in a shared space and physically engaged in an activity, such as tidying up, decorating for a party, or playing a game. Instead of writing dialogue between the two, imagine that they are thinking about one another, and saying very little (or nothing) aloud. Use a script format, and put the thoughts into italics.

Here's an example:

Lily: (snatches her coat off the dining room chair) I know, I know, the dining room isn't a closet.

Mom: (sighs, lets the pan she's scrubbing in the sink drop more loudly than necessary) How am I going to tell her about Emmeline's accident?

Lily: (gathers books and papers from around the room) I'm cleaning as fast as I can ... can't she see that?

Mom: (turns on the water—it's too hot) Ow! Why can't anything go right today?

Lily: (drops everything on the couch and hurries over to the sink) Mom, let me help you. Why does she only see the things I do wrong? Doesn't she see how I try to help out?

Mom: I've got it. I'm fine. If she stays there, looking at me with those concerned eyes, I'm going to start crying. And then she'll know, and I'll have to comfort her, and I don't know how ... I don't know what to say. (with an irritated swipe of her hand, flicking soapy suds across the room) Just go.

After you finish writing your scene:

Notice any discoveries you made. Did the physical activities make it easier to show the thoughts in action? Did writing the thoughts out in words (from both characters' points of view) help you further understand why each character was behaving in the way they were, and where the gaps of misunderstanding were between them?

In most stories, you won't show more than one character's internal monologue like you did in this dialogue. However, when a dialogue scene feels too predictable or needs more conflict, this strategy can be an interesting way to play with what is being said—and what isn't—to see if you can add interest and that touch of real life to your scenes.