Writing 101, Day Seven: Give and Take

Focus today’s post on the contrast between two things. The twist? Write the post in the form of a dialogue.

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Write a post based on the contrast between two things — whether people, objects, emotions, places, or something else.

Remember those “compare and contrast” essays in composition class, in which you’re forced to create a clunky juxtaposition of two arguments? Just because that particular form was a bore doesn’t mean that opposition has no place in your writing.

Bringing together two different things — from the abstract and the inanimate to the living and breathing — creates a natural source of tension, and conflict drives writing forward. It makes your reader want to continue to the next sentence, to the next page. So, focus on your two starkly different siblings, or your competing love for tacos and macarons, or whether thoughts are more powerful than words, or…you get the idea.

Today’s twist: write your post in the form of a dialogue. You can create a strong opposition between the two speakers — a lovers’ quarrel or a fierce political debate, for example. Or you could aim to highlight the difference in tone and style between the two different speakers — your call!

If you’d like more guidance, check out these ten tips on writing solid dialogue. In case you’re intimidated by dialogue tags — all those “he said,” “she whispered,” etc., here’s a useful overview.

Emulating people’s speech in written form takes practice, and creating two distinct voices could help you see (and hear) the different factors that play into the way we speak, from our diction and accent to our vocabulary and (creative?) use of grammar. (We’ll discuss the topic of voice more formally later in the course; for now, take a stab at writing dialogue on your own.)

Need a helping hand? Head to The Commons.

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  1. Well defined contrast sharpens both images/meanings.
    (Trouble getting started? Try sitting in one place at table or desk and free write thoughts of one character/position. Then physically get up and move to the other side of the table and (on a different page/ space down to clear space – no writing seen), free write taking the opposite viewpoint/position. Then (get up and move to the center as a moderator and sort through the ideas and create the post by merging and blending into essay, story or dialogue.
    Actually moving from place to place sometimes helps the brain switch gears.)
    Relax and enjoy musical chairs by brain or body.
    Contrast and comparisons are always rowdy fun.


  2. Having a little think about this while in the office. I might write the dialogue in script format to further experiment with the writing style once I get home to write.