July 12 at the SI Part 2

Jesse’s lesson was about dialogue, so he sent us out of room 150 and around campus on the hunt for dialogue. I walked around the building’s ledge hoping that the two men I saw loading boxes onto a truck would start talking to each other. They didn’t. They said hello to me and asked me if I was taking a break. I kept walking on the ledge until I heard a woman on a telephone. This is what I heard:

“No, he has it.”

“In jail. They have all of his personal property as far as I can tell.”

“It’s Chesapeake Correctional Facility.”

Then I saw a small group of people talking. One left the group and I heard, “Thank you,” as the person walked away.

Then I heard someone I walked by say, “Unfortunately not!”

Our time was short so I went back to class.

We were told to circle our juiciest line and try to create a scene around it. Of course my ears perked up when I heard the word jail, so I went with that. Here’s what I came up with:

The woman pulled a cigarette out of her mouth and blew the smoke out of the corner of her lips.

“Where is his wallet?” a muffled voice said through the telephone.

“As far as I know, it’s with him in jail.”

Even though I didn’t get very far in the scene, I like that recording the dialogue gave me an idea for a story. If only I could find time to write it.

If you want to try this dialogue activity with your students, get the details from So You Want to Write: How to Master the Craft of Writing Fiction and Memoir by Marge Piercy and Ira Wood. They offer it as an exercise.