Writing better dialogue.
|This was just like her dad, always late. Why did he want to meet her for lunch anyway? At least she had picked a nice restaurant, linen napkins and tablecloths. If she had not thought to make a reservation, they would be eating in another dump like last time. The real flowers were a nice touch, not those plastic ones where he usually ate. She drummed her manicured nails on the white cloth and pursed her lips.
“Hi, Honey. Sorry I’m late.” As he slid into the chair across from her, she looked around to see if anyone was staring at his rumpled suit and slovenly appearance. You would think he could have at least shaved. Reaching inside his jacket, he pulled out a pack of Camels and started to light up.
“You can’t smoke in here, Daddy! Put that away.” She started to grab the cigarettes out of his hand, then thought better of it, cut her eyes right and left, and leaned back in her chair.
“Oh,…sorry.” He winced and stuffed the cigarettes and lighter back into his shirt pocket. “This is some place. Your boss must be paying you well.”
“One reason he pays me well is because I’m a punctual person. I’ve already ordered for us. I only have an hour, you know. What is it you want?” As she reached for her water glass, she blatantly looked at her watch.
“Now, Eileen. Can’t we have a nice father-daughter lunch first?” His winey voice and sheepish, pleading expression irritated her even more.
"Sure, you can have a leisurely lunch any old time. You don't have a job to get to. If you did, you and Mom would still be married. And quit wining, would you? Someone will hear!" Her Dad looked like she had hit him with a brick. All the color drained from his face, but Eileen never noticed.
“Just spit it out, Dad. I told you I don’t have all day.” She could feel her blood pressure climbing as he hung his head and twiddled his thumbs. It must be money…again.
“Well, Honey. I hate to tell you like this but…. “
“Is it money, again, Dad? Because if it is, the well is dry. I mean it this time.”
In quick sequence, a look of surprise, embarrassment, then hopelessness crossed his face. He dropped his head and mumbled, “No, Sweetheart, no money this time. This time I’ve got lung cancer.”
7.Write a dialogue scene between two people of different genders. This could be a parent and child, heterosexual lovers-- whoever, as long as one is female and one male.
“Raise a quarter.” Sam added to the pile in the middle and leaned back with a smug grin. Chip bags, beer cans, and overflowing ash trays interspersed with the red and white poker chips in front of each player.
“I’ll call.” Joe pitched some of the colorful chips into the growing pot. Though the bets were penny ante, it was serious business all around.
“Want more beer?” Sam’s wife hollered from the top of the stairs that led down into the remodeled rec room.
Sam looked at the others with raised eyebrows. They all nodded. “Yeah,” he hollered back as he took a satisfied puff on his cigar. The fan over the green-felted table dispersed the choking cigar smoke throughout the basement. Wednesday was poker night, and Sam and his buddies were deep into the game.
“Damn, I fold.” Barney laid his cards face down on top of his winnings and headed to the bathroom. “Be right back.”
“Not interested, huh?” Sam continued puffing and chewing on the tip of his cigar as he watched Barney’s retreating backside. “You seein’ me?” Sam looked at Bob with a satisfied grin.
“Yeah, I am.” With measured precision, Bob laid each required chip into the center pile.
Two sets of eyes focused on Sam. Bob took the last swig of his beer. “Let’s see um.”
Sam turned up two pair. “Eights and twos.” He started to rake in his winnings as Bob laid a hand on his right arm.
“Just a minute.” Bob turned up triple threes. Sam’s jaw dropped. He stuck his cigar back into his mouth and shrugged.
“Hold on there.” Joe cut in as Bob reached for the pile. Joe turned up triple sixes and grinned like a monkey as he raked the pile of chips to his side of the table.
Bob started collecting the cards. As his fingertips touched Barney’s, he hesitated. “Should we look?”
“Damn straight.” Joe and Sam chorused their assent.
Bob laid down the cards he had gathered and turned up Barney’s hand. “Trip sevens? Damn!”
4. Write a conversation in which no character speaks more than three words per line of dialogue. Again, avoid crutches such as explaining everything they say through narration. Use your narration to enhance the scene, not explain the dialogue