Headmaster, William Strauss, teaches the basics of dialogue to some unruley students
|William Strauss - Headmaster of St. John’s College, Abrystwith, Wales – had always walked with a sense of authority. To this end he had practised from a very young age.
“William, a man must always stand tall and walk proud.” his father had said to him as an eight year old boy.
“Yes Daddy” William had replied. “I will Daddy. I promise.”
And so it was. And so it is. Today like any other day William Strauss, a wolf-like man with thick sideburns and round golden spectacles, strode through St. John’s corridors with his long black cloak billowing behind him. Upon reaching his destination he closed the classrooms old oak door behind him with a loud and resounding bang. The chattering and general commotion within quickly subsided.
“Morning Class” he said taking seat at the front desk.
“Morning Headmaster” the boys chanted in reply.
“Yes. Yes.” He mumbled beneath his grey moustache arranging his papers. “Right. Who can tell me what Mr. Temby was supposed to be teaching you this lesson?” a hint of irritation in his voice.
Four or five hands shot into the air. He singled out one of the boys. “Wilkinson.”
Tommy Wilkinson bolted upright. “Mr. Temby was going to teach us how to write dialogue today Sir.”
“Hmm. Dialogue. Interesting…” Mr. Strauss then picked up a large textbook that lay on the desk before him. He riffled through the pages and quickly found what he was looking for. “Right. Could everyone turn to page 56 of Lothaniel’s English Textbook. Come on. Quick as you can.”
A flurry of pages ensued amongst the boys during which one of them lurched his tweed jacketed arm into the air. It was Jenkins (or… Jackass Jenkins as he was known in the staff room).
“Sir… Sir… Sir…” Jenkins repeated with the regularity of a quacking duck.
The headmaster resignedly sighed. “Yes Jenkins…”.
“Sir. What’s dialogue Sir?”
“Yes Jenkins. Exactly. If you had turned to page 56 of Lothaniel’s English Textbook with the rest of the class… you would be able to tell me. Now Jenkins. What does it say in big black letters in the middle of page 56.”
Jenkins franticly fumbled through the books pages amongst his classmates tittering. Upon finally finding the page he was looking for he took a deep breath of self importance, paused, and read out aloud “Dialogue… Is written form of the spoken word. Sir.”
“Yes Jenkins. Now does that answer your question?”
Jenkins looked up uncertainly. “So… dialogue… is… what I’m saying now?”
A ripple of laughter rolled through the boys.
“No Jenkins. You’re speaking with your mouth. If the words you were saying were written down on a page. Then they would be dialogue.”
“They are written down on a page Sir!”
The Headmaster sighed “Yes Jenkins.”
“But Sir. I am written form of the spoken word Sir. We all are Sir! My father says we’re all just figments of someone’s imagination...”
“Yes. Well with all due respect… your father is a twit Jenkins.”
The classroom filled with laughter. Jenkins bravado rapidly deflated. His eyes slightly glazed over; yet he held back his emotion.
“Settle down. Settle down!” the Headmaster said angrily.
The boys composed themselves.
“Right. Does anyone have a sensible question to ask?”
Roger Tuttle held up his arm. He was a pudgy faced child with red hair and more than a smattering of large freckles across his face. He was also teacher’s pet.
“Yes Roger.” Said Mr. Strauss.
“Sir. I wanted to know. How do you know if someone is speaking or shouting in dialogue?”
“Good question Roger. It’s simple really… When someone speaks in Dialogue you can follow with a qualifier such as he said or she said”, he said. “LIKEWISE IF YOUR CHARACTER IS SHOUTING YOU CAN FOLLOW THE DIALOGUE WITH HE OR SHE SHOUTED”, he shouted.
“Thank you Sir.” Said Roger.
“Sir… Sir… Sir… ” It was that damned Jenkins again.
A red faced Headmaster snarled “Yes Jenkins.”
“Can you write dialogue within dialogue sir?”
“Jenkins you surprise me. You have asked a sensible question! The answer is yes. Let me think of a good example. Yes I’ve got one… Lets say… for example… you had a character called David… and he wanted to recount something that another character called Allen had said. You could write… ‘A very peculiar thing happened today, said Allen’, said David”, said the Headmaster.
Jenkins pondered this for a second.
“Sir. Can you write dialogue within dialogue within dialogue within dialogue?”