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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Writing for a Living

Iowa City is the place to be if you love good writing.  Here at the University of Iowa Summer Writing Festival, great writers are revered, though not necessarily overpaid, the way Hollywood and the rest of the world celebrates and overpays movie stars and sports phenoms.  Iowa has its own Walk of Fame immortalizing great Iowa-connected authors in bricks. Their fans tread lightly and in awe.

This year my brother and I again are enrolled for week-long sessions in the hopes of improving our writing skills, even if we are never likely to earn a living through writing. My class is on dialogue, with the catchy title, "You talkin' to me?" I'm already feeling De Niro's accent coursing through my fingers as I type.

As I told our spectacularly-skilled teacher, Kate Aspengren, (and no, I'm not writing that because I hope she will stumble on my blog) I am hoping she will give me the skills to shed the Hallmark Movie feel from my dialogue. Our Professor, a very successful playwright, who actually has her own brick in Iowa City's Literary Walk, should be the one who can show me how to wipe the cheesy from the words I impose on my characters.

So here's the first dialogue I typed in class. Our Prof supplied the first line as inspiration.


SHE:
“You’re the last person in the world I expected to see.”

HE:
“It’s been a long time.”

He pushes past her into the apartment.  She trails behind him.

SHE:
“How did you find me?”

HE:
“You know I was a detective.”

SHE:
“I know. I just never thought you’d come lookin’ for me.”

HE:
“I been lookin’ for you for… well, since our last job.”

SHE:
“Why?”

HE:
“You know I could never forget you.”

SHE:
“You spent all of the money, didn’t you? And now you think I’ll help you with your next big con. Well forget it. I’ve been straight ever since you made off with the whole take.”


HE:
“Me? I didn’t run off with the take. “

Simultaneously, “Willie!”

They move closer.

She:
“You mean you didn’t take the money?”

HE:
“I should’a known it was Willie. Oh, baby, come here…”




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