Novel Novice is currently running a writing prompt designed to help hone dialogue. The parameters are 250-500 words, so here’s a snippet from my WIP (edited to be heavy on the dialogue):

“So, here’s the deal. Actually, there are two deals. Or maybe three. I don’t know. One is about me and the other is about you. Kind of.”

“Would you just spit it out?”

“I’m changing my major and I haven’t told Mama or Daddy.”

“Holy crap, R.J.! They’ll flip! Let me guess, you met a cute upperclassman sorority chick and you’re both majoring in English so you can write poetry together under the full moon?”

“Shut up, you douche! I’m trying to be serious here.”

“Oh. Right. Continue.”

Anyway, I can’t do the pre-law thing. I know Daddy wants me to join him at the firm in a couple years, but that sounds like as much fun as sticking my hand in a paper shredder. I’m switching to pre-med, instead. Psychology and psychiatry. I want to figure out what’s going on with Mama, and why we’re so fu- messed up. I don’t want to be like Daddy and bury my head in the sand, you know?

“I mean, what if I have kids and they have problems, too? Or your kids? Not being mean, but we both know you’ve got problems, Sis. I want to fix this. I know Mama and Daddy will be pissed. Probably because I won’t make as much money as I would if I joined the bar.”

“You said there was something else. Something that had to do with me?”

“Yeah. I…I think you’re hiding something. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t think it’s just about Mama. You’ve always told me about that stuff, and you know I’m here for you. I just…I don’t know. You’re different.”

“Different how?”

“It’s hard to explain, especially since I don’t want to piss you off. That’s a first, isn’t it?”

R.J. takes my hand. “Don’t get mad, okay? And don’t freak. It’s just … I think you’re getting really worked up over this Juillard thing. I know! I know it’s a huge deal and you have every right to freak out. It’s just that you’re almost home-free. Literally. Next year you’ll be out of here no matter what, whether it’s Juilliard or someplace else. Don’t make yourself sick when you’re in the homestretch.”

“Any other clichés?”

“Um, yeah, actually.”


“Okay, this is where you’re really going to freak.”


“See? You’re already doing that eyebrow thing. Man, I wish I could do that.”


“Okay! I wanted to tell you to … um … well, I know you’re almost eighteen, and I’m not that much older than you so this is going to sound weird, because really, it’s none of my business, except that it is, because I only want what’s best for you


“Okay! Just keep your legs crossed!”

“WHAT?! Who the hell do you think you

“Wait! Down, girl! I come in peace! Ouch!” I flick him right between the eyes like we did when we were little. It sounds stupid, but man, it hurts.