Jaw, jaw is so much better than war, war!
Day Seven: Give and Take
Today’s Prompt: Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.
Remember those “compare and contrast” essays in composition class, in which you’re forced to create a clunky juxtaposition of two arguments? Just because that particular form was a bore doesn’t mean that opposition has no place in your writing.
Bringing together two different things — from the abstract and the inanimate to the living and breathing — creates a natural source of tension, and conflict drives writing forward. It makes your reader want to continue to the next sentence, to the next page. So, focus on your two starkly different siblings, or your competing love for tacos and macarons, or whether thoughts are more powerful than words, or …… you get the idea.
Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue. You can create a strong opposition between the two speakers — a lovers’ quarrel or a fierce political debate, for example. Or you could aim to highlight the difference in tone and style between the two different speakers — your call!
If you’d like more guidance, check out these ten tips on writing solid dialogue. In case you’re intimidated by dialogue tags — all those “he said,” “she whispered,” etc., here’s a useful overview.
Emulating people’s speech in written form takes practice, and creating two distinct voices could help you see (and hear) the different factors that play into the way we speak, from our diction and accent to our vocabulary and (creative?) use of grammar. (We’ll discuss the topic of voice more formally later in the course; for now, take a stab at writing dialogue on your own.)
Today’s task makes writing about dogs look like a piece of cake!
I spent quite some time wondering how to approach this, what to draw upon in terms of my own experiences, what the scene might be. In the end, I chose to write a fictional exchange between me and the landlord, David, of my local pub back in the days of when I lived in Harberton, near Totnes in South Devon. (David and his wife are no longer in residence.)
To help set the scene for you, dear reader, here are two photographs. The first is a view of the pub in the centre of the village of Harberton; population 300 persons.
The second image is of the main bar area inside where this fictional conversation is about to take place. The pub was less than a five-minute walk from my home.
“Evening David! Golly, looks like I’m first one in this evening. Must stop looking so keen to have a beer at the end of the day!”
Paul swung his backside onto the corner bar stool and lent his right arm on the bar.
“Good evening to you, Paul. Same as usual?”
“As ever, David.”
David reached out his right arm towards the pump handle at the same time as the fingers of his left hand closed around a pint glass. The sound of the mild ale being poured into the glass was a tonic in itself.
“So how’s your week been, Paul?”
“David, don’t even ask. I seem to have spent most of my waking hours wondering what the hell I’m going to do if the election goes the way it appears to be heading.”
“Well I’m sure Ralph will have clear ideas on that one when he comes in”, David remarked as he handed me the brimming glass of ale.
The pub door squeaked open in the same way it had for time immemorial.
David looked up. “Speak of the devil, here’s the man himself!”
“Somebody call my name?”, boomed out Ralph’s voice.
“David was just saying that you would have clear ideas on the election. But first let me get you a pint, Ralph.”
“Thank you, Paul, that’s mighty gentlemanly of you.”
Ralph removed his light raincoat and sat down next to Paul.
David passed across Ralph’s pint of bitter and took the ten-pound note that Paul held in an outstretched hand.
Ralph took a long swig of his beer and set the glass down on the counter. “So how do you think the election is going to turn out?”
Paul, too, took a good mouthful of his beer and looked across to Ralph. “Well if the media are reporting it correctly, it looks like there’s a better than even chance of UKIP holding the balance of power. And if that happens then I can kiss goodbye to my business!”
David held out Paul’s change in his hand.
“Oh come on, Paul, you can’t mean that! UKIP holding the balance of power will mean an end to the antics of the money-grabbing bastards who have got us into the present mess. Surely, that would be good for you!”
“Ralph, I really wish you are right. But seventy-five percent of my revenue comes from the EU countries and UKIP have pledged to hold a referendum on whether Great Britain stays or leaves the European Union.”
“Well I don’t know! Me, I just want the quiet life with me and Betty enjoying the rest of our years free from all the damned interference from bloody bureaucratic arses both sides of the Channel!”
“Ralph, I can understand that, truly I can. But I’m a long way from retirement and if my business fails I’m screwed, screwed big time!”
“Paul, you worry too much – let me get you another pint!”
Paul chuckled, “Ralph, you know how to win me over don’t you!”
“Anyway, Paul”, Ralph continued, “rumour has it that you aren’t even spending Christmas with us in the village.”
David, putting the second two pints of beer on the counter in front of Ralph and Paul, looked up, “What’s this I hear? You deserting us this Christmas?”
“Sorry gents, but it’s looking that way. I’ve been invited to spend Christmas with a couple of Americans I’ve known for years.”
“Well it’s alright for some lucky sods,” boomed Ralph, “I’m lucky if I can afford a trip into Totnes.”
He sipped his second pint. “America! Bloody Yanks!”
“I said I have been invited to spend Christmas with some Americans. Doesn’t necessarily mean it will be in the USA.”
“Come on then, tell us it’s somewhere even fancier!”
“Ralph, I’ve been invited to go to Mexico!”
And so it came to pass!
Well it was fun to write but I’m not certain that I got anywhere close to what today’s Writing 101 theme was looking for.
Oh well, another day tomorrow!