Turning Tales Week 4: Dialogue

Welcome to the fourth week of Turning Tales!

This week’s writing topic: Dialogue

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If you’ve ever transcribed an interview, you know this: Most people speak in half-sentences, keep interrupting themselves with “uh” sounds and say “like” and “you know” astonishingly often. Nobody wants to read that. If dialogue feels too artificial, on the other hand, it yanks us out of the story.

In summary: It’s a good idea to imitate spoken language, but not too well. Dialogue is tricky. Yet it can do so much! It advances the plot, shows characters through their voice and conveys emotion as well as information.

Write a dialogue that climaxesand endsin ten phrases.

Take two characters – they can be characters you’ve known for a long time or ones you just plucked out of thin air – and give each of them five lines. Use this conversation to show your reader how these two feel without them ever stating it directly.

:left_speech_bubble: :speech_balloon: For this prompt, one line means one statement. While brevity is almost always a good thing, you are not confined to standard lines.


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Love Is…

“Good morning, Mrs Pruitt” The dapper little churchwarden was usually far too busy to chat after the service.
“I need to talk privately, dear.” she took my hand and led me into the vestry. “I was talking to your husband, the other day, and I asked how he managed while you were on night duty so much.” She hesitated. “He said he got the live in lover to come round”. she finished on a rush.
“He was joking!”
“If you’re sure, dear, we thought you needed to know.”
“Thank you for talking to me, it must have taken courage to tell me.” I hesitated; she had said ‘we’… “How many others know?”
“Oh, everyone, dear, we discussed it before Church and I was chosen to speak to you.”

Can I think “Damn”, when I’ve just taken Communion?


“There’s an old Oujia board up in the attic, can we get it down and play?” Jack asked.

“Only if you’re not gonna tell your parents that I let you stay up past bedtime?” I replied.

“Okay!” Jack ushered back, already running up the stairs. “Here we go,” he said as he placed the box on the table.

“What shall we ask it?”

“Erm… how about, has anyone ever died in this house?” Jack whispered.


“Whoa! Did you see that?” Jack said, astounded.

“Stop messing about! It’s not funny!”

“It’s not me,” Jack said, “What should we ask it next?”

“Maybe, ask it who died?”

“Who died in this house?” he asked.


The Brat and I

“Hi honey! I’m home! Come and give me a hug!”
“Oh, hi mom…”
“Aw I’ve missed you all day, love! Look at you playing so nicely with your toys! You are such a big girl now! What game are you playing?”
“Um…mom, do you want to hear a knock knock joke?”
“Of course! I love knock knock jokes!”
“Knock Knock.”
“Who’s there?”
“Mind who?”
“Mind your own business please.”

The Last Argument

“I’m tired,” he said with a thin voice as he turned out the lights.
“Aren’t we all?”
“I suppose so. I just thought you should know.”
“Let’s see what Jamison says in the morning. He will have some answers.”
“I don’t need his answer.”
“I do.”
“You just need him to agree with you.”
“Don’t you need him to agree with me?”
“You think you are always right. What if the MRI shows you’re wrong?”
“Yes, I have to be right. I said you’re fine! You’re-” What if I am?

The Key

‘Maybe you should sit down and have a drink. Jax will be here in no time with the key to that silly door,’ Gwen said as she stepped away from the front window.

‘Thank you my dear. it’s just been a stressful week with father’s passing and I just want to get this all settled so we can go back to our boring…’ Philip stops as the doorbell rings, ‘Oh, Thank goodness he’s here.’

Gwen opens the door, and Kalen steps in.

‘Kalen. Good night, gentleman. I’ll excuse myself,’ Gwen says before leaving the room.

‘Kalen, you are here awfully late. What’s the matter?’ Philip asks, a hint of surprise in his voice.

‘I heard Jax was making an appearance tonight and I just happened to be out and about.’

‘At midnight?’ Philip asks as a boom of thunder sounds in the distance.

‘I had to work late. Seems to be a bit of a storm on the horizon.’

‘A storm indeed. I have a feeling this night is about to get interesting. I’ll ask again. What brings you round?’

‘Did you think that you could get away with a secret meeting with Jax?’ Kalen asked as he pulled a cigar out of his pocket.

‘It wasn’t a secret. You just weren’t invited. Simple as that.’


‘Well, apparently it doesn’t matter. As you can see Jax is a no show.’

Kalen manically laughs.

‘How could you?’

‘He knew too much.’

‘So, where’s the key?’

‘What key?’

‘The key that opens the door. Quit playing dumb. Why else would you take care of Jax?’

‘There was no key,’ Kalen says as he slips his hand into his left pocket.

‘Lies!’ Philip lunges forward, pulls a knife out of his back pocket, grabs Kalen by his collar, and shoves the knife into Kalen’s neck. Kalen’s eyes pierce into Philip’s as he falls to the floor. ‘You forced my hand you bastard!’

Philip reaches into Kalen’s left pocket only to discover a lighter.

‘Nooooo!’ Philip screams

The end.

Helen’s Gift

‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry, I should’ve asked before I bought it,’ the door to his computer room was slightly ajar, I wasn’t sure whether to go in or not, so I stood quietly on the threshold.

‘I told you not to fucking disturb me,’ he screamed, slamming the door in my face.

I was in the kitchen when I heard him come downstairs a few hours later; my mouth bone-dry, my heart a stallion’s hooves in my chest.

'Andre, please, I didn’t mean to upset you, ’ I stood up quickly and went towards him, trying to make myself as small as possible.

‘Helen, Helen, I’m sorry,’ he said touching my face tenderly. ‘I wish you hadn’t made me angry, I hate it when that happens. How can I make it up to you, my darling girl?’

‘No, it was my fault,’ I mumble, my head buried in his shoulder, ‘I didn’t think.’

‘Yes,’ he laughed lightly tapping my forehead, ‘that’s your problem, Sweetheart, sometimes that pretty head doesn’t think.’

I try to match his lightness. ‘I’m working on it, I will do better,’ I tease.

‘That’s my girl, you’re a wonderful work in progress, come let’s go to bed, I’ll make it up to you.’

My eyes fix on the beautiful new Sujihiki lying on the counter.

Frank walked inside the dealer shop covered in snow with pursed lips;

“Good evening Frank. What will it be today?” He asked.

“I’m not feeling myself today, no, I’m pissed off, Jo…” Frank replied, slamming his bloody hands on the counter.

“I saw two strange SUVs headed your way. Having trouble at the house?” Jo inquired.

“Yeah, I have an infestation and need something heavy.”

“Then I suggest number three. It comes with a dual Glock 45 ACP model with two extra clips. An infrared M16 A2 and two hand grenades.”

“You’re a dear Jo. I appreciate you,” Frank smirked.

“Well, I hope you feel better. Happy holidays, Frank!”

“You too, Jo. Kiss your wife and children for me, will ya!”

“Take it easy now, Frank.”

Dialogues from my upcoming story. I hope you like it!

Off Script

“Are you dating anyone?” I slurred, the cool night doing nothing to clear my thoughts.

His steps slightly faltered, a smile gracing his face, “Why are you asking?” I watched as his head tilted to the side, playing along with my drunken conversation.

“I don’t know? Just curious… I think.” I shrugged my shoulders, suddenly flustered. I practiced in front of the mirror only a few minutes ago while waiting for him to arrive, so why is it still so hard to say out loud?

“Well, I’m not dating anybody… I think.”

I could hear the soles of my shoes scraping against the sidewalk, hands fidgeting incessantly, “That’s nice,” I whispered, feeling very warm despite the slight breeze blowing straight through my shirt. What was supposed to be next?

“Is that right?”

Bravely, I nodded, “Yeah… that’s right.”

“And why is that?” he muttered softly, his breath condensing in the air.

This was my moment to deliver one of my lines, the right line. I smiled, butterflies in my stomach—or maybe it was the urge to throw up all the liquid trash I drank, “I think you’re smart enough to figure it out.”

We had both stopped walking, our figures only existing due to the light from the streetlamp.

“Well then, I think you should enlighten me.”

#Taken from my novel Soft Whisper From A Quiet Heart.#

Al: “I don’t like it when you shut me out like that. And don’t barricade yourself in the bathroom. That makes me angry so don’t ever do that. Now when I tell you to come to me, I mean just that.”

Michelle: “Al. I think that you need to see a shrink. I don’t think that you have all your faculties working too well. And one day you’re going to say the wrong thing to someone. And he is going to knock the living hell out of you.”

Taken from my novel
Soft Whisper From A Quiet Heart
Lloyd E. Scott

“You never questioned my arrival.”
“I never needed to.” Mayme replied.
“Did the Lady tell you to trust me?”
“No, Conroy Favien would never give a job to someone he didn’t trust.”
“What if he had been discovered as a traitor? Surely you couldn’t just innately trust that I wasn’t a spy.” Aneb questioned.
“Gut instinct.”
“Aneb, I would’ve been dead. I know this, but death comes to all. I try not to fear it while I’m still breathing.”
“You’re a fool.”
“I know, which is why I’m stuck in this place.”
“Precisely my point.”

“You appear to be struggling with that crossword puzzle, Watson!” said my friend Sherlock Holmes.
“Yes” said I, laying my copy of The London Times down.
“Perhaps I can be of assistance.”
“Possibly” I said, picking up the newspaper. “Seven across. Canal along which food passes through the body.”
“Alimentary, my dear Watson. Alimentary.”
“Of course!” I cried, reaching for my pen. “How about fourteeen down? A flowering plant of the Rutaceae family bearing a yellow pungent fruit.”
“A Lemon Tree, my dear Watson. A Lemon Tree.”
“Brilliant!” said I. “Twelve across. Basic, straightforward and uncomplicated.”
My old friend furrowed his brow. He ruminated on the question posed to him. After a while, he shrugged helplessly.
“Well, Watson. I think that one has got me beat.”


“Hey Cap’n,” yells Mike. “Ya ready ta push off yet?”
“Yeah, Sam. Let’s head out!”
“That’s one swell lookin’ dame!” says Fred.
“Ain’t she?” agrees his companion. “Boy, what I wouldn’t give for a dame like that!”
“Where’s the other one?”
“What other one?”
“The one he came on board with?”
“Dunno wat ya talkin’ bout. Only seen him with this one.”
“Ya sure, Sam? The other one had red hair.”
“Naw man, same woman. Musta had on a wig.”

“I can’t believe it! I woke up this morning, and saw a child staring at me out of the mirror. How can that be?”
“Dunno kid, what kind of child you talking about?” The minder asked with a grin.
“Well, he looked to be what, seven, eight, something like that, difficult to know ages with kids, ain’t it?”
“Yeah, it’s never easy. Dey all look the same to me!”
“That was something different, wasn’t expecting that first thing in the morning! Ain’t seen nothing like that before. How can there be a kid in the damned mirror?”
“Pretty strange, I’ll admit that. It’s pretty strange.” That odd grin came over the minder’s face again as he spoke.
“I’m guessing he must have been about eight years old, at least that’s my best guess, as far as I can tell. I could only see his head and shoulders, so it weren’t easy to tell, but he was grinning at me. Couldn’t help thinking that he knew exactly who I was, that he knew everything about me.”
“Wouldn’t like that much, not my idea of fun.”
“Well, I said he was grinning at me, but that doesn’t cover the expression that was on his face. I’ve never seen anything like that grin before. There was something nasty about it, that’s the only word I can think of using to describe it, nasty.”
“Thing is, kid. That’s my son you’re talking about, and he really don’t like you. Told me he was gonna get you, wanted blood!”

“Let’s go over this one more time,” Inspector Heath said in a calm, reassuring tone. “It’s important you leave nothing out.”

Jaxon glanced at his mum, who nodded for him to continue.

“Last Friday, I was on my way to school as normal when I spotted something in the field just past Mr Hughes’ farm.”

Heath scribbled down a note, then said, “Go on.”

“At first, I thought it was an old tractor I hadn’t noticed before,” Jaxon continued as he started to pick at his fingernails. His mother’s hand settled on his, staying his nervous fidgeting. “I started to walk on, but it began moving, but it didn’t look right… its movements, I mean.”

Heath nodded. “What about its movements were off?”

Jaxon’s eyes flicked to his mother, and she smiled back at him.

“Keep going, sweetheart. You’re doing really well,” she said as she squeezed his hands.

Jaxon cleared his throat, then took a big breath before answering the Inspector’s question. “Like I said, I thought it was an old tractor, only it wasn’t. At first, it just sorta… vibrated. Then, after a few seconds, it started to unfold. I could hear all its joints creaking and groaning as it started to…”

“To what?” Heath asked as he played with the cap of his ballpoint pen. “Do what, Jaxon?”

“To stand.”

“Were you frightened?”

The boy’s brow furrowed, but he shook his head. “NO, it wasn’t scary, more interesting than anything else. It was like watching something on the telly, you know what I mean?”

“You mean it didn’t seem real?” Heath asked as he flipped a page in his notebook and checked a previous note. “Earlier, you said it was like watching a CGI robot in a movie. Does that still seem right?”

Jaxon considered the man’s words, then shook his head. “No, it was more like watching a news report of something happening miles away. Inspector…”

“George, please,” Heath said as he placed his pen on his notebook.

Jaxon glanced at his mum again. She just smiled.

“George, this is Theale. Nothing happens here. I just couldn’t believe what I saw because our village is about as boring as it gets. I wasn’t scared ‘cause it didn’t look like it wanted to hurt me, and I didn’t think what I was seeing was really happening. I thought I was.” His brows furrowed again. “What’s that word, Mum?”

“Hallucinating, dear.”

“Yeah, hallucinating. Anyway, It just sorta unfolded, stood and started walking toward London. To me, it just wanted outa Theale, like the rest of us. I don’t think it means us any harm.”

Heath stood and walked to the window. The spiralling smoke in the distance contradicted Jaxon’s words.


“When are you driving up there?” Carol asked, placing the mug down on the work bench.

“Friday. You want to come?” Rebecca answered while cleaning paint brushes. “We will drive up for the weekend”.

“Yeah, no, I’m not going to do that” Carol ran her finger along the rim of the mug not making eye contact.

“Carol, the doctor said that…”

“Rebecca, I know what the doctor said”

“Then its crucial that we spend time with her” Rebecca began to walk towards the work bench.

“I get it, I do. She’s dying so now we have to be emotional and pretends she’s been a great mum for all these years” Carol curled the mug into her chest.

“Carol” Rebecca said softly while reaching a hand out to her, only for Carol to move further away from the touch.

“I can’t make it” Carol stood up from the work bench and walked towards the doorway.

“I’m not saying you have to be best friends, just spent some time with her" Rebecca gave a comfort smile towards her.

#From my short story “Darrah and the Waterfall”
My sons came in then and asked why I had never told anyone what happened. I stared at them blankly.
‘Tell people that your Uncle Darrah went off with the fairies. Who would have believed me?’ I asked in astonishment and left the table to go and sit outside. I could hear them talking inside.
‘How can she not have known what happened?’
‘How could she not have told anyone all these years? Her own brother.’
‘Now we know why she goes to the waterfall all the time.’
‘I wonder if she saw him fall or if he just disappeared? Either way it’s heartbreaking for her.’
‘Maybe she really never knew. She was only young; she probably didn’t really understand.’ said Darrah trying to understand the past and his Mothers part in it.
‘God, she’s kept this secret all these years. No one is ever going to know the truth except her.’
‘Well, you’re the one who’s named after him. Wonder who I’m named after?’
‘A fairy probably.’ And the tension eased as the brothers chuckled together.

“That oak was a skinny little thing when Bryan planted it. It was my idea to call it Lil’ Clipper, after… after-”

“After Joe DiMaggio, I remember”

The old man’s gaze fixed on the distance. He jolted up, straightening his slumped posture, taking in a rattling breath.

“Joe DiMaggio! The 13-time all-star, 361 home runs, batting average point 325! The Yankee Clipper!”

The old man began to shake. Lifting his arms as if to swing a baseball bat, his bad knee was twisted, and his yellow-stained quilt slid to the cracked, greenish-black wood decking.

“Inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1955, Yankees man from his lackluster debut to his last game in Major League Baseball September thir–” the man continued to bellow.

“Dad! Please ca–, please calm down.”

The old man’s knee gave out, he let out a panicked yelp as he started to fall backwards.

Bill jumped up, wrapped the shaking man into his embrace. Bill’s glasses were fogged up, streaks of tears running down his cheeks as he held on, with his face buried in the old man’s bathrobe-covered back.

“It’s… it’s ok Billy” the old man consoled, as he was slumping back to his deck chair.

Bill wiped his cheeks with the sleeve of his hoodie, cleared his throat with a muted cough, and let out a sobbing exhale.

“Da… the-, the house is getting demolished today… Lisa’s in the car, we’re taking you to Cedarhursts’…”

There was a silence between them. In the distance, two men were carrying an old, chipped and stained bookshelf into a garbage truck.

“You know, that oak was a skinny little thing when your grandpa planted it… it was my idea to call it Lil’ Clipper…”

Murder at the Observatory

“I’m LEO”
“No, you’re not”. Refuses entry.
“Yes, I am”
“Not in my book!”
Pulls out ID card and thrusts it at the guard.
“Oh, Law Enforcement Officer”
“I told you I was LEO”
“It might have been your star sign, but you definitely aren’t a Low Earth Orbit or a Launch into Elliptical Orbit.” Opens the door.

Replace This Text With Your Title (or delete it if you don’t have one)

“Gigi. You came.”
“Yeah, well”—I wave my invitation through the air—“you were the one to invite me.”
We weave through the drunken mess of the Christmas party together until we’re sitting in her basement, the only quiet room of the house. Awkward tension fills the room until I finally speak. “So, how’s everything been? Since Chris’s accident?”
“All right. Mom’s been getting help, and Stacy seems to be pushing through.”
I hadn’t thought about Stacy. “That’s an awful thing for someone to go through, and at six? I can’t imagine.”
“Yeah.” Sarah lets out a sad laugh. “You should see her. All happy and bubbly, like he never even left.”
“Sorry I missed the funeral, it’s just that something came up, and…”
Sarah puts her hand on my wrist. “Don’t be sorry. I get it.”
“I know how much Chris meant to you. If you need any help, just let me know. I mean it.”
“Thanks, Gigi.” Sarah wraps me in a hug. She leans in my ear, her breath hot as she whispers, 'I know what you did." A warm sticky stain spreads along my back, and all I can feel is my blood pumping out as she walks away and re-enters the party.