Writers' Workshop #4 - Avoiding Exposition through Dialogue

Reply Mon 8 Feb, 2016 07:41 am
The others are here: http://able2know.org/forum/workshop/
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jack belck
Reply Wed 1 Feb, 2017 08:23 pm
What did you order?

Short ice teas, one with lemon, the other, a regular red cherry.

We stay sober while everyone else gets smashed?

Two of them fled before puking. That’s how we got the last table.

Very nice, Frederick, but anyone going to the john has to pass us.

At least they won’t stop to talk.

Well, you obviously need to talk.


I wish you’d stop calling me that.

If you’ll start calling me Fred

like everybody else does.

We—we have our reason not to, don’t we?

Ten years, same old reason.

I moved to Chicago for that reason.

Has it worked out?

The job? Yes. I have so many contacts now

I could freelance and…

Read this. I got it this morning because it’s been a year since

Dad followed mom, so now both are gone.

Oh, from Dad’s old lawyer, but…

Keep on reading.

“I was on duty the night Mom was in the delivery room…

Charlotte Higgins…rushed from the state prison…

Died, infant survived…Mom, only she survived.”

Oh, my God! They switched babies!

We’re not brother and sister genetically.

Fred, dear Fred…That means one last round trip to Chicago.

Thank God. The wear and tear of these visits must have

been as hard on you as it was for me.

We have lots of forgetting and catching up to do.


Umm, the sheets are bloody. You never…


Damn! It’s wonderful to be able to say

what’s been bottled up for so long.

I love you, Ann.

I wished so many times you’d say that, but…

No buts any more.

They shielded me from the truth because my real mother was a murderer?

Yes. Come closer. I don’t think you’ve inherited anything dangerous.

No? How about…this?

Ann, Ann…

Fred, Fred…

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Reply Wed 1 Feb, 2017 08:42 pm
W00t I had forgotten all about these. Nice job!
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Canada Mike
Reply Sat 11 Mar, 2017 12:11 pm
For me the question is two fold - which is better in the particular instance dialogue or exposition? Then what is the best expression of each
EXPOSITION "Emily is soul destructively bone tired" OR "Emily is beyond exhausted" OR "Emily had never experienced or even imagined such all consuming exhaustion"
DIALOGUE "I am freezing, my teeth have stopped chattering, my arms can't move, endless waves are ahead and behind with no end in sight. Is it just exhaustion or is it death? I am not afraid of death, Mary but I can't let you die. You are only two. Give me your strength so my body can keep paddling, Please, Please let me borrow you strength and save you".

I think we should have a quick workshop on expressing a single feeling:- exhaustion, rage or being in love. The challenge: Give your best expression of the feeling first using a crisp exposition and then using dialogue. Then lets ask each other to do it better or different, as crisply or deeply moving as possible?
Reply Sat 11 Mar, 2017 01:49 pm
@Canada Mike,
That's a great idea. Feel free to make a topic or just start from here. Smile
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Reply Sat 11 Mar, 2017 07:09 pm
@Canada Mike,
I think a good writer takes exposition from the other direction. Rather than explicitly state the condition instead the result or behavior is expressed. I think this is a far more creative way to make exposition bearable.
Canada Mike
Reply Sun 12 Mar, 2017 10:59 am
Can you give me an example for exhaustion? I love to see the full picture but is it not dependent on how much time you want to take - not for yourself but for the reader?
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Reply Thu 30 Mar, 2017 07:16 pm

"Have you given thought to what we talked about?"
"I don't think so."
"Why not?"
"Because I'm not going to betray my husband."
"But aren't you betraying yourself if you don't do as you wish and have what you want?"
"Life isn't about pleasing yourself at the expense of others. That would be selfish."
"So if I understand you correctly, you're saying that if someone tells you that it will displease and hurt them if you decide to have what you want, then it's your responsibility to see that they remain pleased while you remain displeased? That sounds all onesided to me, and not at all conducive to anyone's happiness."
"Look, I made a commitment and took a vow. That means something to me."
"Yeah, and how old were when you took that vow? Did you understand the world back then? Did you understand yourself and what you really wanted?"
"You think I don't love my husband?"
"I know you love him. But I think that, like everyone else, you've been conditioned to believe that there are terms to love that are written in stone. But there's not. There's just the way that relationships have been set up to prevent anyone from stepping off the tracks. A penalty for stepping off the tracks is well established and enforced by society. The truth is, there were never any tracks. The tracks are a myth. And so you won't have what you want because you believe that there's a hostage whose emotional wellbeing is your responsibility. And that hostage is your husband."
"What do you mean my husband is a hostage?"
"I mean that there's something you want, but if you reach for it and enjoy it, and someone finds out, it means that your husband's perception of reality and his sense of security will be devastated. So, basically, you're kept from what you want because you have to protect the feelings and perceptions of another because their expectation is that you respect their expectation of you."
"No, you're mistaken if you think that we should all get everything we want. You just don't have any discipline when it comes to this kind of thing."
"But now you're using the concept of discipline as a way to accuse me of being a victim of my desires. But really, you're trying to use the concept of discipline to justify denying yourself something that you want. Discipline is something applied to the practice of something; something like karate or chess or music. It has nothing to do with denying yourself something you want that will not hurt you."
"But you used discipline to stop drinking and smoking and drugging. So why was discipline a good thing in that case, but a bad thing in this case?"
"Because with chess and guitar I was acquiring a skill and an ability. And it's the same with the smoking and drinking. I wasn't using my discipline to stop smoking and drinking. I was using it to acquire health and wellbeing. Are you looking at sexuality like you look at smoking or drinking or drugging? Do you think you're gaining health and wellbeing by withholding a sexual experience from yourself?"
"You're letting yourself be ruled by logic so that you can gratify your base desires. But like with most things in life, sexual issues are not black and white. And neither are humans."
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