Crafting a dialogue & nothing else

Writing for me has always been a release for daydreaming. Daydreams take on concrete forms of being when I write them down as stories. I have tons of stories that swim round my head, and have finally accepted that they’re just going to have to come out. I really don’t care in what format, just that these ideas and visions have an outlet. I can’t stand more than one voice [aside from my own] dropping thoughts inside my brain for longer than a week or two. So out it comes.

On that note, I have had this story idea for quite a few years, and have been working and playing around with it for the past couple of years… “working” in so far as I am making progress in stitching scenes together to flow as a narrative, as my earliest workings for this story were always only little poetic blurbs here and there. The vision of the entire story is hard to cut into words that flow in a linear fashion.

So along with my experimentation with what will probably turn into my very first novel, I have been reading anything I can get my virtual hands on related to crafting fiction.


One of these resources [Chuck Wendig’s list of ways to plan and prep your story] suggests the writer “let the characters talk, and nothing else”. This is the exercise (profanity ahead, be forewarned):

Dialogue Pass
Let the characters talk, and nothing else. Put those squirrely fuckers in a room, lock the door, and let the story unfold. It won’t stay that way, of course. You’ll need to add… well, all the meat to the bones. But it’s a good way to put the characters forward and find their voice and discover their stories. Remember: dialogue reads fast and so it tends to write fast, too. Dialogue is like Astroglide: it lubricates the tale.” ~Chuck Wendig

This exercise provokes thoughts like “what would the conversation be like” “would they argue, would they debate, would they scheme or plan together” etc. So I followed this format exercise for my 2 main characters, both of which had previously failed to pull my heartstrings in earlier writings. This dialogue exercise was perfect. It made me look at facets of these characters that I didn’t even know were there, and really tune into what they both want [their goals] and what they fear will happen if they don’t get it in this story… As well as the underlying desperation of it all.

The important aspect of this exercise is getting to know your characters [and getting them connected to each other] through their dialogue alone. There is no descriptor narration, no backstories, no outside plot narrations, just the characters’ dialogue to serve as the window view into their world. Through their words/dialogue, I can now hear their voices. I can hear dialect and inflection and tone, and I can hear the emotion in their voices now that I couldn’t hear before.

I found this so eye-opening that I really don’t know why I didn’t do this earlier. Just this little snippet of conversation has helped cement the main plot/conflict and story arc in my head that I feel a little more confident in its telling now.

I highly recommend doing this with your characters. It could even be applied to your main protagonist and antagonist having it out in conversation. Let them get to know each other. Afterward, they should be able to form clearer distinctions between their actions, goals, and how they view one another and their conflict.

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An Unexpected Guest

There might come a late winter night, when the air is cold and biting, that you find yourself answering your door to the sound of a strange god’s pounding heart.

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You cautiously crack the rough-hewn wood just a sliver,

just to see,

And there he is, lumbering there, on your stoop, all wild-eyed and feral grin. You notice the cosmos stirring within his fur, and you’re a little fearful of letting him in.

Before you have a chance to speak to him, though, He barges his way through the door, brushes your worries off his stone arch shoulders, like brushing the sand from your feet after a stroll along the beach.

He clambers toward your favorite chair, and invites himself into it, his hulking form making your only comfortable space screech in protest. But there is purpose in his posture, in his swaying scarred head, and you suppose what the hell, he’s welcome to sit–

for just a spell.

And then you think, it must be a spell, to be so disrupted this late in the night, by a wild god stitched up in moonlight.

He grins his savage song again, and you see him beckon you to feel comfortable in your own home beside the fire, so you accept his crooked finger like a fish to a lure, and sit at his feet as his eyes ponder over your biology.

You feel pulled to ask about the snakes in his belly, the raven claws in his arms, the budding stars exploding to life within his rib cage. But you don’t want to ruin the silence with the danger of pragmatic spoken language.

So you sit with him and listen, to the rhythms in his breathing. And you find a melody in it. It sounds like the haunted chords of your embryonic certitude. You find comfort in that, so you again try for a prayer, a whispered word,

a verse of starlight–

Anything! that you might hear this sparking creature speak.

You will find you want his voice so badly, that you address the solemnity in his dark charm and tell him of your day. You try to avoid your need to bleed and scream and dance in revelry of all that stands before the time when it was sorrow that you wore.

Because at some point, you became scared of your own speech so you began to hide it under the crunch of oak leaves. But this feral god, this dream before you, he sees, and he reaches out and takes your callused hands and examines. He reads the well worn lines and fretful designs, and again his eyes play flame over that wicked grin… Knowing you deeper than you know yourself.

He lets you go and for a moment you don’t know how you could possibly ever go on. The pain in his eyes and those spaces within you make you want to weep. But then he reaches over and pulls from the fire a single seed, a tiny thing–aglow amid the shadows that are beginning to take shape as soulful forms climbing up the living room walls.

He watches your face, probably trying to gauge how resolute your insides are, before he places it in the palm of your outstretched hand. Tears find their way to the corners of your eyes, and they stream down your face at the eternity of his small gesture, and you realize you don’t know how long you’ve been sitting there with him. So you look down to find the time but somehow you are rooted to the floor, moss and clover spreading up your lower limbs, tickling your skin.

And then the seed you hold begins to warm, so you eat it. You swallow it down with the glass of bourbon this wild being has passed to your hand. His laugh is a belly rumble like thunder in the distance, and your head swims under his influence as you praise that single sound.

He asks: why did you leave me behind?

And you don’t know how to answer because you know in your heart the illusions you were once fed had won. It seems so very long ago.

I had to conform, I had to survive.

That wild eyed shine returns to his face, a face you found revolting at his arrival, a face you’re probably growing accustomed to now. And you open your throat to speak, but moths flutter out in place of the voice that used to be yours.

You see that the strange god sitting in your chair weeps with you, and nods his great dark head. He touches your very blood with the clamoring of his own shaded thoughts.

And the shadows that were nothing much just moments before, are now dancing in harmony with the breath solidifying in the air. His breath that winds its way inside your mind and the tunnels within your heart. His eyes shine in tune to the strings of your own wanton music and you will most likely fall drunk on the gravity of that forgotten language.

Then roots form in your belly, pulling your bone and tendon along a web of fates. The blood in your veins turns to silt and soil and your mouth invites the stages of life to sing from your lungs.  You look to find the time again but your house is no longer there.

Your wild god has brought a skin drum and is beginning to pound your birth.

Spirits of bird and bone swirl about your head, unaware that you probably don’t want them anywhere near. But your god keeps drumming, keeps the pulse waves of your dreams. He calls all the beasts and birds and worms

And you hear the earth’s shouts of defiance echo in the air. You watch in secret pleasure as your spirit joins the flight. Again you seek after the voice of the shadowed being that found his way to your door. He’s there, no longer a separate taste of freedom in your gut, but a wakened thing, a dancing step.

And you find yourself alive with the agony of it all.

And then in a moment’s flash, you’re blinking, tears fogging your liberated eyes. You wake upon a misty dawn, an empty glass at your fingertips, your changed spirit sprawled atop the hearth rug. You’ll most likely laugh in wonder of finding yourself in such disarray, as the sun heralds the dawning day.

There may come a late winter night, when the air is cold and biting, you will find yourself answering your door to a strange God’s pounding heart. So you cautiously crack the rough-hewn wood just a sliver,

just to see,

If he’d like to come in for a drink.

Into the Wilds

I began to dream under

the same raw moon

As the tides that bare down

on fragile flesh

the flesh of my forefathers

There’s blood in the apex

of these stones, calling us

to stitch the wounds

of our own callousness and

fleeting desires

 

I wandered into the wilds,

under sand pine prophets

and oaken kings

I lamented on the nature of our

odorous civilisations, our war machines

and dogmas of oppression

 

The egret and ibis heard my prayer

and came to see

the stranger in their midst

A creature of sorrow and

sickness and greed

But I wandered aloud,

my footsteps bringing me

to piles of rubble that once stood

the test of time

and time is now mine

under the stars of my

newfound fortitude,

this reckless keen edge

of awareness budding to life

inside my sleeping bones

 

I was wary once of travellers

of that forgotten golden realm

Longing to hide in the shadows,

a conscious observer

of the night flights of those fighters

The fighters wringing the life out

of the pockets of creation

 

And I stood there watching

while the memories came

to dance about my head

Spiders spinning webs in my hair

to trickle thoughts of liberation

into my brain

 

I thought once of you,

the way your eyes would move

to judge the very fabric that

weaves our flaws together

I set that memory free

and again turned

to the wilds that so

lovingly called me home

 

I followed a deer growing thick

with fetus in her belly,

asked after the hymns

that so wind their way around

and through

beast and tree,

and she told me to listen

 

So I listened to the gathering dusk,

the crickets’ music

transforming my soul

and then I was no longer afraid

of growing old

so I climbed into the crook

of a giant’s sheltering limbs

and I ate nothing but

what I could catch in

trembling hands

 

I sacrificed my self into

the hunt for this wealth

This need to resurrect

what once was a feral heart

I stopped playing prey and

found sanctuary

in the blood of the earth

the blood of reptile skin

and spear pointed teeth

as I became a solitary predator

 

I dug into the midnight soil

seeking a space to sink my roots

to wait and trap any form

any trace of food for my thoughts

I wanted to grow wisdom

I wanted to relearn that

Mother tongue of soil

Muscle and memory

the language of the land’s

savage composition

 

I wandered the forest,

aching to be found among the palmettos

a dying breed of mystic

planting seeds and craving

all things that a human craves

when burning that all to

cinders and ash

 

I buried myself in the darkness

among cypress knees and Spanish moss

Letting nightcrawlers sing me to sleep

I wondered then what it would mean

if I chose to stay

if I chose to let myself forget

to be human for awhile

 

So I tore from myself

small strips of regret

and tied the cloth of those sins

to a dogwood tree

I cried at the wrath of the earth

calling for my explanations

of falling off the edge of this world

So long ago, now, it seems

 

I entered the badlands

of buzzing insects, leeches

and steam

I let myself go back that way again

and found the answer to that riddle:

 

I was never really me.

Love was an old brick Road

Once we carried wishes in our mouths, our bleeding hearts choked up on poetry and whiskey, the nostalgia of childhood dreams.

When romance was the ocean calling us down to the shore, we ran in rhythm to the pulse of the waves, and stripped down beyond our naked vulnerability, plunged ourselves deep into the indigo of what we thought we’d have.

When love was an old brick road, we danced in ryhthm to the beat of the setting sun, kissed his feet goodnight and worshipped the moon as she rose.

Love was an old brick road, but somewhere along that path our travel plans unraveled, and I ended up walking alone.

.

.

.

+LJ

Just another December day in FL

So much for hoping for a chilly winter. We’ve had some days here and there, but here in Florida we usually don’t see our coldest temperatures until January and February. And even then…

It’s not always that I hope for a cold Florida winter; lately though I’ve been craving seasons. I want more of those fall colors, more of the chill misty mornings that northerners know so well. I crave damp cool air where my breath leaves my body in little white puffs.

But hey it’s Florida and I should at least be thankful that I don’t have to deal with snow.

So what does a Florida girl do when it’s warm out merely 2 days after Christmas?

Garden work!

I went out and bought myself some new herbs and flowers, and I’ll be damned if I didn’t use the lovely warm weather to clean up and reconstruct what used to be my herb spiral.

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It is a medicine wheel now. 🙂 I cleaned and prepped the bed and soil about a week beforehand, and my new little herb corner should do lovely!

That’s how Florida natives roll. We’re either decorating palm trees for Christmas or working in our gardens in December!

 

Happy Holidays!