Scene 1: The Art Studio

“Cristine, may I have a word with you?” James said, interrupting her from her work. She put down her brushes and looked at him exhaustingly. She had been working on her painting all day, and he really hated to bother her. She nodded as if to say begin talking.

“I hate to bother you because we are both pretty busy today, but I really think this painting of Elisa looks marvelous. I like how you used thin brushstrokes and light watercolors. Do you mind staying late tonight to discuss your techniques?” he asked her willingly. He hoped she agreed because he had been fond of her for years, and he could never act on it because she was married and had kids.

She nodded happily and said, “I think that would be perfect. I am really confident in this style and piece. I will just call Elisa, and tell her to tell her father that I won’t be home for dinner.”

Elisa was Cristine’s daughter, and she was our model on occasion. She doesn’t come around very often anymore. She told her mother that art really wasn’t her interest anymore, but I knew the real reason.

Elisa and I were very close. She had been my model very frequently a few years ago. One night we stayed late, and things happened between Elisa and I. It was never anything serious, but it hasn’t completely stopped. Over the years things have cooled off, but we are still attracted to each other. I really hate that it happens, and I never could tell Cristine. She would hate me forever. I couldn’t live with her hating me.

As I waited for Cristine to get off of the phone with her daughter I went and stood on the balcony. The sky looked like it was on fire, bursting with color from the sunset. Our art studio was in the middle of Paris, and I think it is quite romantic. It was high up, secluded, and cozy. It was perfect. Too bad I can’t share it with Cristine.

 

Scene 2: The Cockpit

I had always loved flying. It gave me a sense of power. I can control a big, metal, tin can looking device flying through the air. A sense of power that I don’t have at home.

I sound like such a loser. I am almost thirty, and I still live at home with my parents. No girlfriend, I’m only a copilot and no money. I am such a loser. That’s why I plan to end it all today.

As I go through my preflight checklist, I begin to feel nervous. I am not only taking my life, but I am taking the lives of all of these innocent people on their way to vacation in Italy. Maybe they will thank me. Maybe they are going through things too. Maybe this isn’t all that bad.

I check to make sure all of the engines are running properly and to see if we are connected to the towers communications properly.

Rick is beside me. I look over at him and he gives a quick smile. We have been friends for years. We trained together to become pilot and copilot. He was such a great man. I look over at him calmly going through his checklist. He doesn’t know that when we reach our greatest altitude I am bringing all of us down. We both finish our checklists and plan for take off.

We fly for about an hour, and I realize we are getting close to our highest altitude. I say a quick prayer. I pray that God won’t condemn my soul for what I think needs to be done. I am only trying to do everyone a favor.

When I get done praying, I realize that it’s time for me to do it. Goodbye world.

Instructor Response

Hi Kayla. Great work. My comments and suggestions are in red.  References at the end.

Scene 1: The Art Studio

First, some suggestions about dialogue that I’ll illustrate by rewriting a few dialogue segments. Dialogue should never sound like a tape recording of a conversation, yet, paradoxically, dialogue should always sound as if was spoken in reality.  Part of this is adhering to brevity and not putting too many ideas in a segment.  The examples in red below are only suggestions to give you an idea of what I mean.

“Cristine, may I have a word with you?” James said, interrupting her from her work. She put down her brushes and looked at him exhaustingly exhausted. She had been working ‘d worked on her painting all day, and he really hated to bother her. She nodded as if to say begin talking giving permission for him to talk.

“I hate to bother you because we are both pretty busy today, but I really think this painting of Elisa looks marvelous. I like how you used thin brushstrokes and light watercolors. Do you mind staying late tonight to discuss your techniques?” he asked her willingly. He hoped she agreed because he had been fond of her for years, and he could never act on it because she was married and had kids.

She nodded happily and said, “I think that would be perfect. I am really confident in this style and piece. I will just call Elisa, and tell her to tell her father that I won’t be home for dinner.”  

“Cristine, may I have a word with you?” / “You too busy to talk?”

 

“I hate to bother you because we are both pretty busy today, but I really think this painting of Elisa looks marvelous. I like how you used thin brushstrokes and light watercolors. Do you mind staying late tonight to discuss your techniques?” he asked. /

 

“That looks like Elisa. You’ve captured her perfectly.” He paused, hesitant to speak. “Could we get together tonight?” 

 

“I think that would be perfect. I am really confident in this style and piece. I will just call Elisa, and tell her to tell her father that I won’t be home for dinner.”  

 

“I don’t need to work on this. I’d love to.” She began to clean her brushes. “I’ll get Elisa to tell her father I won’t be home.”

 

NOTE: I’m trying to make the dialogue sound the way I think the characters would speak in real life, or in a film.

Elisa was Cristine’s daughter, and she was our model on occasion. She doesn’t come around very often anymore. She told her mother that art really wasn’t her interest anymore, but I knew the real reason.

Elisa and I were very close. She had been my model very frequently a few years ago. One night we stayed late, and things happened between Elisa and I. It was never anything serious, but it hasn’t completely stopped. Over the years things have cooled off, but we are still attracted to each other. I really hate that it happens, and I never could tell Cristine. She would hate me forever. I couldn’t live with her hating me.

As I waited for Cristine to get off of the phone with her daughter I went and stood on the balcony. The sky looked like it was on fire, bursting with color from the sunset. Our art studio was in the middle of Paris, and I think it is quite romantic. It was high up, secluded, and cozy. It was perfect. Too bad I can’t share it with Cristine.

Scene 2: The Cockpit

Now I would like you to think about style. Your style, at times, seems loquacious, which slows reader pace and delays comprehension.  I’ll reorganize a few sentences for succinctness. See if you like the changes. (If not, keep, no need to worry about style. It’s all subjective.)      

1. The sky looked like it was on fire, bursting with color from the sunset. The sunset spewed red and orange. (Note that most sunsets actually are on fire and you might want to go to description rather than metaphor.)

2. I had always loved flying. It gave me a sense of power. I can control a big, metal, tin can looking device flying through the air. A sense of power that I don’t have at home.

Look how this might be condensed and strengthened while saving the ideas. I loved the power of controlling a huge metallic can in the air, so different than the passivity I had at home. 35 vs. 20 words.

3. I sound like such a loser. I am almost thirty, and I still live at home with my parents. No girlfriend, I’m only a copilot and no money. I am such a loser. That’s why I plan to end it all today.

I’m a loser at almost thirty, no girlfriend, no money. At least I’m a copilot, capable of ending it all.  42 vs 20 words.

4. Rick is beside me. I look over at him and he gives a quick smile. We have been friends for years. Maybe:

I look to the left at my friend of twenty years, Rick, who gives me a quick smile.  22 vs 18

As I go through my preflight checklist, I begin to feel nervous. I am not only taking my life, but I am taking the lives of all of these innocent people on their way to vacation in Italy. Maybe they will thank me. Maybe they are going through things too. Maybe this isn’t all that bad.

I check to make sure all of the engines are running properly and to see if we are connected to the towers communications properly.

Rick is beside me. I look over at him and he gives a quick smile. We have been friends for years. We trained together to become pilot and copilot. He was such a great man. I look over at him calmly going through his checklist. He doesn’t know that when we reach our greatest altitude I am bringing all of us down. We both finish our checklists and plan for take off.

We fly for about an hour, and I realize we are getting close to at our highest altitude. I say a quick prayer. I pray that God won’t condemn my soul for what I’m about ready to go for what I’m about ready to do. I am only trying to do everyone a favor.

When I finish my prayers. praying, I realize that It’s time! for me to do it. Goodbye world.

SUMMARY. You’ve done a great job with the exercises. Nice work. I’d think about too many words and how to make dialogue seem realistic. I’ve included references (free and online).

 

Thanks for the submission and all the best,

Bill Coles

RESOURCES

https://www.storyinliteraryfiction.com/essays-on-writing/dialogue/

https://www.storyinliteraryfiction.com/essays-on-writing/improving-dialogue/

https://www.storyinliteraryfiction.com/essays-on-writing/characterization/

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