I was attracted to a recent short story writing competition because of the challenge offered up to this popular style of writing. In this instance the story had to be entirely in dialogue form without any ‘he said’, ‘she said’ or additional attributes or narrative. I thought that it would be no different to playwriting which I quite enjoyed, but soon realised this was not the case. Without stage directions and descriptive actions for the characters, the exercise was more challenging than I originally imagined. I then considered it would be more akin to a radio play; but in a radio play there are different voices for the characters and sound effects to create images of the action for the listener. It was therefore necessary for the purpose of whoever was reading the story for me to devise means of establishing who was saying what to whom, as well as incorporating changes of scene or describing activities purely through the dialogue between the characters.
A manuscript session at my local writing group provided the opportunity to see how well my effort had turned out. There was initial debate as to whether I should just read out the whole piece myself, but the consensus was that without actually seeing the written piece it would be difficult, unless I produced different voices for each of my three different characters, to work out who was saying what. The compromise was for me to allocate ‘parts’ to be read but without the aforementioned directions or scene changes signalled.
The feedback was useful (one of the boons of membership of a writing group) and really positive for what I had written. I shall therefore be submitting the piece to the competition after a bit of ‘polishing’. These types of writing exercises really do stimulate the brain cells – well, for me at any rate – and help in honing skills in all forms of writing. The competition result will no doubt indicate how well honed mine have become!