quaranTEEN voices Writing Prompt: 'Making Conversation'

News —— June 8, 2020

Special guest author P. Carl joins us for this week’s quaranTEEN voices! P. Carl is an artist, nonfiction writer, and activist. As a theater maker, he believes that theater is for everyone and creates opportunities for dialogue and activism through the shared experience of art. His memoir, Becoming a Man: The Story of a Transition is about his gender transition after living as a queer woman for decades. The story mirrors, in several ways, the challenge we face as a society to imagine a world in which everyone can have a vibrant, livable life.

To join us this Friday and hear from P. Carl (and share your own work if you’d like), sign up HERE!

From P. Carl:
We might be living in the most difficult historical moment ever for knowing how to communicate with another person, how to create dialogue that is honest and embodied and complex.

Write a scene between you and a friend, family member, or acquaintance, arguing over something you feel strongly about. This can be about anything; a social issue, how people protest, or even why you should or shouldn’t eat a specific food. Your work in this is to find two distinct voices in your writing. You will be one character and the other person (which can be real or made up) will be another character. So be attuned to how each character speaks, uses body language, voice level, etc. and describe in parentheses what we should be imagining this argument looks like physically, spatially (where are you arguing).

Things to think about when writing dialogue—almost always less is more. Active dialogue in writing uses language to both make a character’s point and to help us imagine how a character looks and feels and sounds.
Revision Tip 1:
Read your piece out loud, or have someone read your piece out loud (or both!). Pay close attention to how you or the other person reads the dialogue. What words, sentences, or specific parts of the arguments were given the most emphasis when spoken? Now go back to your piece. How can you express that emotion through words? How is your character feeling during their argument? Tense? Calm? Think about adding bolder words, pauses, and body language to your scene.

Revision Tip 2:
Imagine the backstory of one or both of your characters; how they grew up, what they were taught, positive or negative memories. How does their story affect why they believe in their argument? Do they have specific lived experiences they use to strengthen their argument?

Be sure to sign up for our newsletter HERE to receive weekly prompts and other virtual youth writing opportunities right to your inbox! On Thursday we’ll send out a few ideas to help you revise your pieces. Sign up to talk to P. Carl and share your writing with other quaranTEENs on Friday HERE!