The following is the result of a writing exercise I had to undertake in a class I took about five years ago. I don’t really remember the specifics, but basically I had to take something I’d written and re-write it purely as dialogue, with minimal description of action. Any meaning or conflict had to come purely from what the characters were saying to each other.
It was a fun exercise and I liked how it turned out. I invite anyone who reads this to try it out, as it may help to look at a scene or interaction in a different light and lead to new, previously undiscovered plot threads. Post the results in my comments or, if you have a blog, post it there and then leave a link!
Enjoy, and have fun!
Jacob: Danny-boy’s mad again…
Isis: (Turning from the door, still wincing from the echo caused by its being slammed shut): Well…you did go a bit overboard last time.
Jacob: Guy pulled a gun on me, Ise. I reacted.
Isis (ramming a steel brush down the bore of a rifle): You over-reacted, is what you did. You drove a…damn, this brush is useless…you drove a fork through the back of his skull.
Jacob: (setting a full mag aside and picking up a new one) So?
Isis: The op was a snatch and grab, Mouse. He had info we needed.
Jacob: Done with that rifle yet?
Isis: Yeah… (Isis hands the rifle over to Jacob, who takes it from her and places it on a rack behind him)
Jacob: Well, in that case I’m sorry for still being alive.
Isis: That’s not what I meant. I’m just saying that if you could kill a guy with a gun pointed at you with nothing but a fork, you probably could have disabled him just as easily.
Jacob: I didn’t say it was easy, Ise. Still isn’t. I can’t even say it was my skill or my training. It just turned out how it turned out because I was half a second faster than him.
(Jacob has stopped loading the mag and stares blankly into the ammo can, his fingers resting loosely in the brass.)
Isis: Dammit. Look, I’m sorry. First kill can’t be easy, especially when it cost us the mission.
(Jacob’s eyes flick upward to hers, then flick quickly away again.)
Isis: There you go, being all morose again. Tell me, did you say anything after you did it?
Isis: You know, did you say something witty. I’d think driving a fork into someone’s head would offer up an opportunity for all kinds of zippy comments. Like “You’ve just been served”, or, “You bled on my good silver.”
Jacob struggles not to smile, but it fights its way through.
Isis: Ah, see. There it is.
Jacob: You’re sick.
Isis: Hey, got you to smile, didn’t I? Mission accomplished.
Jacob: I got one. “That’s what’s for dinner…”
(Jacob emits a laugh that dies awkwardly when Isis does not join in).
Isis: That’s awful.
Lilith: Hi, Jacob.
Jacob: Hey Lil.
Lilith: So, Jacob. Are you ready?
Jacob: Ready for what?
Lilith: Chapel. Remember? You promised you’d go with me today.
Jacob: Shit, Lil, I’m sorry. I forgot. Besides, Martin’s got me doing grunt work all day because of what happened.
Lilith: It won’t be long. Isis can handle it until you get back. Speaking of which, why are you being punished, Ise?
Isis: The only reason I’m here is to keep Jacob company, Dream Girl. He’s been given an assignment, and he intends to carry it out. If you want to spend time with him, no one is stopping you from stepping up to the table here and doing some work.
(Lilith’s eyes gaze down at the bullets and weapons, then shifts to Isis’ hands, smudged with oil and caked with grease.)
Lilith: Maybe later. I have to go now. The service is about to start. I still think you should come, Jacob. You did just take a life, after all…
(Jacob swallows, and continues loading the mag)
Jacob: I have work to do, Lil. Maybe next time.
Lilith: Yeah. Okay. Next time, then? I’ll…bye.
(Isis watches Lilith until the door snaps closed behind her.)
Isis: Such a little girl. “All you need is prayer”…really.
Jacob: She’s just trying to help…
Isis: If she wanted to help you she’d be here, by you. That’s part of what being a Pair means. If it was Lilith in your place you’d help her, wouldn’t you?
Jacob: Probably, yeah.
Isis: And it’d be the same for me and Daniel, or Josh and Chris. I don’t understand how Lilith can just…walk away like that. And in the name of piety, to boot. She should be practicing her beliefs, not listening to useless prattling about what those beliefs mean. For the love of Pha…
Jacob: Thanks. For being here.
Isis: Hm. You’re welcome.