Guerrilla Dialogue (or: Nobody Expects the Dramatic Imposition)

Sometimes I feel like my efforts to improve my work go unappreciated at home.

Take dialogue, for example. It’s one of my favourite toys; I constantly have little bits of conversations evolving in my head. Random things. Tiny bits of conversational flotsam that distract me from the real world. Sometimes this dialogue applies to a story I’m working on. Other times it’s generated by a situation, and I know it will never fit in anywhere. Still, it’s fun to play with, and I think the paractice helps when it comes time to write dialogue in a story.

OK, so sometimes this leaves me giggling to myself in the grocery store for no apparent reason, but strangers thinking I’m off my rocker is a small price to pay for entertainment and experience.

I recently decided to take this show on the road— that is, I’ve started grabbing every opportunity I can to inject dramatic or interesting dialogue into conversations with my husband. Now he thinks I’m nuts. Really, though, it’s so much more rewarding when he has no idea that he’s my guinea pig.


AJ: “Kit, do you know where the Windex is?”

Me: “Pointed. At. Your. HEAD.”

I think I should get bonus points for the fact that I did, in fact, have a squirt bottle of the blue stuff pointed at the back of his cranium, but that’s beside the point. You see how this works?

That one just got me The Look. Other attempts haven’t gone so well. Like last weekend, when I decided to go all old-school Batman with a nasty twist, just to see how that went:

Me: “Leaking LADY-BITS it’s cold out there!”

AJ: *dead silence* “That… was the worst thing I have ever heard.”

Me: (after laughing until my stomach hurt) “I didn’t say what was leaking…”

AJ: “Doesn’t matter.”

Come to think of it, we have a lot of those moments when I know he wants to say, “Please don’t ever speak to me again,” and I wouldn’t even blame him.

So here’s my challenge for you: choose your target(s). In the middle of a conversation, use your whip-smart brain and writerly instincts to inject something dramatic, suspenseful, cheesy, or completely bonkers into a conversation*. Defy someone’s conversational expectations. Turn your dinner conversation into a one-sided scene from Flash Gordon, or imagine yourself as a world-weary PI and your [sister, boss, uncle George] as the dame with legs that won’t quit who just walked into your office with a sob-story that makes you reach for your [whatever world-weary PI’s drink]. On your way out the door to get groceries, convince the dog that you only have five minutes to get to the store to diffuse a bomb/stop the alien body snatchers/defeat the Invasion of the Watermelons of Death.

Trust me, dogs love that shit.

And please, report back to us here, whatever happens. (Disclaimer: I am not responsible for what happens if you try this on the wrong person and they call the police. That’s all on you, you weirdo.)

*Sarcasm doesn’t count, everyone does that.


About Kate Sparkes

Kate Sparkes was born in Hamilton, Ontario, but now resides in Newfoundland, where she tries not to talk too much about the dragons she sees in the fog. She lives with six cats, two dogs, and just the right amount of humans. USA Today bestselling author of the Bound Trilogy (mature YA Fantasy), Into Elurien, and Vines and Vices. Writing dark, decadent, and deadly Urban Fantasy as Tanith Frost. View all posts by Kate Sparkes

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