Conversation Piece

The largest writers’ club in Scotland, almost standing room only, and after one and a half meetings I am being asked to write the blog ( noun. A truncation of the expression weblog is a discussion or informational site consisting of discrete entries in reverse chronological order published on the world wide web ). So I am a blogger. I feel so much better for saying that….
As my writings skills ( if any ) had not yet been considered by any members, I have quickly concluded that on the evening of Wednesday 2nd. December I must have had the look of a serial victim, easy prey to a predatory committee member. According to Michael Malone, more of him later of course, dialogue speeds things up, but should not be used for exposition, and distracting tags should be avoided.
8.30pm. A smiling, sheepishly apologetic, senior member of the club approached me.
‘I’ve noticed that you have been making lots of notes. You are the ideal person to do this week’s blog.’
As I looked at him blankly, frantically thinking of a polite way out of this, he moved in for the kill.
‘It doesn’t matter what you say, just five hundred words, e-mail it in.’
‘I’m going to be away for a few days.’
‘How are you travelling?’
‘By train.’
‘Ideal for writing a blog then.’
Although I blethered a few more words concerning the busyness of the carriage and who might be around me, we both knew that the game was up. As if being given the challenge on Mission Impossible I was handed a thin, seemingly harmless, slip of paper.
‘Well done. Don’t worry. Five hundred words or so, by next week. Have fun.’
For the second week in a row, to my shame, the speaker was not, at first, known to me, but judging by his relaxed manner, and the warm welcome that he was given, he was evidently a good friend of the club. In a friendly, persuasive humorous presentation Michael set out the ground rules that aspiring writers should follow when writing dialogue. He illustrated his address with engaging examples and gave useful hints on helpful websites.
After coffee, chats, club business and the announcement of winners from previous competitions, Michael challenged us to write some dialogue, giving us a few potential titles. Those who subsequently volunteered to read their work had produced remarkable pieces of work in ten minutes or so. I sat on my hands, glumly aware of the pedestrian quality of my few lines. I’ve never been a fast writer.
So the evening ended with generous and wholly justified vote of thanks to Michael Malone. I must catch up on one of his books. As for me, the thin strip of paper said about writing the blog –‘It’s a great way to get involved and stretch your writing muscles.’ Yes….no time for writer’s cramp as it is time to consider Flash Fiction for next Wednesday.

Chris Palmer

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