Nuzgûl Hutch

One-on-One Instant Conversation

Challenge Details

Your challenge is to write a conversational short story. You and your partner, that is. A story with two main characters, and 2 simultaneous POVs. But you will only control one of them. Your partner will control another. Like in a conversation, unless you're telepathic, you will not know what your conversation partner is going to say until they say it. You then respond. Then they respond, etc. That is how you should write, not knowing what your partner will write, what the other character will say.

It's sort of like role play, but perhaps more spontaneous, definitely shorter, and less broad in scope.

Here's the plan: Find a partner. This takes two. Each of you choose a character and together choose a plot. Heavy on the dialogue is best. Short is definitely best. You will each write from only the POV of your character. Don't plan too much. Write as a conversation.

That is key. Have a very basic framework of where the story/conversation should go. Don't write your bit of dialogue, leave a blank for the other writer, and then write your response to what they will write later. That will limit the other writer's spontaneity, constraining their response. Write your bit. Wait for the other "character" to respond. Then write your response. Introspection is fine, especially within the paragraph of your bit of dialogue.

Note: There will be 2 POVs simultaneously. Normally, that's a no-no, but it's the idea in this challenge.

This is tricky, but a fascinating idea that a friend and I once tried. It started off great and ended...well, it never did. It just kind of fizzled. But knowing why can help keep any takers from fizzling to. What went wrong? It was too long so it dragged into weeks and months. We left the spontaneity behind. It lost the magic. We made it too complicated, bringing in more characters, using more "directorial notes" leaving our framework less simple. The simpler, the better. But have a starting and stopping point and the basic thing you want to accomplish in the dialogue.

(See example notes below for more info)

So keep it simple. Keep it short. Keep it spontaneous. IM would be a great medium, as would any private chat mode. E-mail will work if you can keep it snappy between the two you. Don't overwrite. Don't overthink. Act, react. Think like the character, not a writer who sees all. Just the character who can only see and hear and feel what he/she sees and feels and hears and can only perceive and speculate on what others might think or feel or hear, etc.

Example: (I take this example from Star Trek, because that was where the ironically-titled story, Purgatory, was begun.)

In one episode of DS9, it was revealed that Julian Bashir had been captured by the Dominion and taken to the same internment camp as Enabran Tain, who had been captured (and was presumed dead) two years before. Gen. Martok, 2 Romulans, and a Breen also share the cell block, but the main two characters, thus POVs, were Bashir and Tain. Bashir eventually becomes entrusted with the group's escape plot. Still, he is held for a month before they escape, spending 5-7 days in solitary for some reason not long before the escape. Tain dies before the escape. Tain and Bashir have met once before.

That's canon. Our frame was that one month, we began with Bashir waking up in the block, and the initial, not very trusting, conversation with Tain. Tain, the former head of the Obsidian Order (think Gestapo) is feeling Bashir out. Bashir is groggy and confused, but still a doctor at heart. My friend Jo wrote Tain and I wrote Bashir. The first 2 days we were writing the story were many e-mails bouncing back and forth and it was brilliant. It got less brilliant when we brought in more characters and decided on too much more framework. It fizzled from there.

E-mail ainae at earthlink dot net if you'd like to see a snippet of the example story, Purgatory, to get the gist.

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Challenge Info

Created: November 23, 2005

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Entries: 0

Originator: Ainaechoiriel

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