Lesson No. 2: Implementing Active Narration to Show Conflict, Not Tell It

In order to write dialogue that reads as a genuine conversation between two or more characters, a writer must know the characters—all their biases, morals, personal histories, and reasons for being. In a way, a writer must play god to the world in which he/she creates. A writer must allow his/her characters their flaws and their beauties. Truman Capote says, “A conversation is a dialogue, not a monologue. That’s why there are so few good conversations: due to scarcity, two intelligent talkers seldom meet.” And though this is true, it is advantageous to create characters that lack the ability to know and/or overcome their own flaws. Furthermore, it is advantageous to create characters with varying degrees of intellect, characters with secrets, with guilt, with something to hide, etc. because these truths can naturally create tension and build to a surprising, unavoidable climax.

Quentin Tarantino is a master at creating tension through dialogue. Consider the Rat Scene from his 2009 film, Inglorious Basterds:

Using the same character(s) you developed in Lesson no. 1: Creating a Scene through a Character’s Perspective, you will write an active narrative—you will write a strong scene of dialogue that SHOWS the conflict building through the characters’ words instead of TELLING the conflict thought your narrator. You definitely should give some narrative background—gestures, place, time—but the focus of this assignment is dialogue.

You can stretch your previous assignment, you can build onto it, or you can write a separate, full scene that you see as another part of your short story.

This assignment is 800 words in length.