A Dialogue Challenge

"Silver Lake Park Bench" © 2010 by Jim GardnerThe Quillians‘ challenge for April is to write a scene of no more than 350 words consisting solely of dialogue. No tags (…, he said; …, she asked, …the constable exclaimed), no narration (He raised his eyebrows, her lips were set in a thin line), no nothing except pure dialogue.

Now, I was given a word count, again, so of course, I hit it exactly, almost without trying. It’s sort of getting uncanny.

Since we are given no opportunity to create character, setting, or plot outside of dialogue, this was an interesting challenge. How do you get all those things across while at the same time making it interesting to read as a conversation?

Well, from the get-go, I knew I wanted to do something . . . a little odd. (Who, me?) So once I had the character name you’ll see shortly, <cliché alert> the rest of it just sort of wrote itself </cliché alert>. Phone conversations are, perhaps, the easiest to portray this way, because they’re naturally all dialogue.

So, anyway, I now present my entry to the Quillians’ April Dialog Challenge: "Kit-napped"

"What exactly do you want me to do?"

"If you ever want to see Miss Princess Pants again, bring a trash bag of catnip—the fresh stuff, not that over-the-counter crap—"

"Oh, I would never—"

"Shut up! Bring the goods to the park at Webber and Clouseau at 12:00 sharp. There’s a bench near the sandbox."

"Yes, yes, I know the one."

"Lie on the bench watching the birds."

"What? Watch the—? I don’t understand."

"I’ll be watching. Stay until you’re sure no one else is around, then bury the bag in the sand and walk away."

"But, how will—?"

"If you do what we’ve asked—"

"We? I thought there was only one of you . . . Hello? . . . Oh, sweet goddess, hello?"

"If. You do. What we have asked. Miss Princess Pants will be returned to you, unharmed, by 3:00 pm. Understand?"

"How will—?"

"Do you. Understand. My instructions?"

"Y-yes. Bring a bag of fresh catnip—"

"Primo stuff, remember."

"Yes, high-quality catnip. To the park at Webber and Clouseau at noon and bury it in the sandbox."

"Come alone. If I catch whiff of the K-9s—"

"Oh, no! No. I just want . . . I just want my baby back, safe."

"Then there should be no problem, provided you don’t do anything stupid."

"Can . . . Can I speak to her? Please, I . . . I just need to hear her voice."

"Lady, I don’t have time for—"

"Please! I’ll do anything you ask! I just need to hear my baby to make sure she’s OK."

"Oh, fine. Anything to shut off the caterwauling."


"Princess! Oh, my Bast, Kitten, I’ve missed you so much! Are you OK? Are they treating you all right?"

"Mom, I’m OK, I’m OK. These jerks are assholes, but they haven’t hurt me. Can’t say the same for them, th—"

"All right, that’s enough, you little spitfire. Lady, are you satisfied?"

"Yes, yes! Oh, thank you. You aren’t going to hurt her, are you?"

"Not if you follow our instructions to the letter."

"I’ll be there."

"See that you are. Remember: I’ll be watching you."

And there you have it. Three hundred fifty words of pure dialogue. In what I hope is an entertaining little vignette.

We’ll present them and vote on them probably around April 11. I tied for third on the poem challenge for February. I took first place for the Pot of Gold story for March. We’ll see how I do for April. :)

Oh, and two more things. First, I’d like to thank my friend Patti for the names of the two streets. Once I saw her suggestions on my Facebook page, I knew I had to use them. Oh, the puns . . .

Second, this is the first post I’ve done using Microsoft Live Writer. I have no doubt it’ll look great on WordPress. What I am a little trepidacious about is how it’ll look when it’s cross-posted to LiveJournal. Well, we’ll see, I guess.

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One Response to “A Dialogue Challenge”
  1. oneeyeddaruma says:

    I couldn’t be prouder… Nice work.

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