Project 5 – Reading between the lines

Project 5 – page 85 -exercise two characters who know each other well.

Think of a conflict/problem between them.

1a. a married couple who cannot have children.

1b. two friends who are in love with the same person.

Put them in a situation with a third person they don’t know

1c. perhaps a supermarket checkout assistant

1d. perhaps a car salesman.

Write the dialogue in such a way that the conflict is never mentioned, but the reader can work it out.

Once you have got your draft dialogue, cut it by half. Really think about what you can take out while still leaving in ‘what’s between the lines’.

1a + 1c a married couple who can’t have children

Jan and Dave unload the shopping from the cart. The woman on the checkout looks as if she didn’t bother combing her hair this morning. It was obviously just a job to her.

‘There’s an offer on these,’ the woman says, holding up a packet of Jammy Dodgers.

‘I know,’ says Jan, ‘It takes us a while to get through a packet.’

‘It takes five minutes in our house. I usually stock up when they’re on offer. My brood can finish a packet in one session.’

‘Brilliant! How many kids have you got?’ asks Dave, ‘I’m limited to one in my lunch box. She always says I’ve got to watch my weight,’ he adds signalling at Jan with his thumb.

‘Dogs not allowed any?’ the woman asks, scanning several tins of dog food. ‘There’s cheaper brands than this, you know,’ she says to Jan.

‘My Betsy only likes this particular brand. Turns her nose up at anything else. She can be a little madam sometimes, can’t she Dave? ‘

‘Don’t I know it.’ he answers, rolling his eyes at the woman behind the till.

‘Sounds like you spoil her,’ says the woman, ‘My man won’t have animals in the house. Not with so many kids about. You can never be sure, can you?’

‘We don’t have that problem,’ says Jan, ‘Betsy rules the roost in our house. She’s enough for both of us, isn’t she Dave?’

1a + 1d a married couple who can’t have children

‘Come this way. I’ve got just the car.’ The salesman leads the happy couple, Gemma and Tim across the showroom car park to a VW Touran in dark metallic grey. He can tell they’re newly married when he spots Gemma constantly looking at the two brand new rings on her finger.

‘Oh! We’re not looking for something that size,’ says Gemma, ‘Just a small car would suit our lifestyle.’

‘I can see your way of thinking, but it’s surprising how many newlyweds get a two-seater sports job and are back within six months looking for a family car.’ He winks at both of them.

‘We’re more into a bit of speed and luxury than family,’ Steve says, slipping his arm around Gemma’s waist before wandering across the showroom floor, ‘Can we have a trial in that convertible?’

‘Course. It’s up to you. I got one of those when I got married. Lasted a couple of years before Chantelle came along and we had to part-ex for a saloon. I like the people carriers best, though. Planning for the future is good, I say, and they last for years.’ He opens the driver door for Steve, but Gemma steps forward and climbs in.

‘I like this, Steve. Spot on for country drives and picnics. Wind through the hair and all that. Perfect.’

‘I don’t drive,’ says Steve seeing the surprised look on the salesman’s face. ‘Gemma’s the speed fiend.’

‘Won’t be much room when you’ve got a tummy as it were,’ the salesman mutters, half-blushing.

‘As I said, this is perfect for two,’ Gemma snaps, getting out of the car, ‘but as you’re not interested…’

1b + 1c two friends who are in love with the same person.

‘I’ll take the red ones,’ said Bill.

‘Would you like them gift-wrapped?’ asked the florist.

‘Why are you getting red, Phil? You know she hates red flowers.’ said Jack, frowning at his friend.

‘Does she? I didn’t know that?’ Phil turned back to the florist. ‘Looks like I might have to get something else.’ He looked around at the large selection of bouquets on display.

‘Get her the pink ones.’

Phil stared at Jack. ‘How come you’re such an expert on Sophie? Did she tell you she liked pink?’

‘No…Course not. I just remember how much she went on at the flower show the other week.’ Phil looked blank.’ When she practically pushed her nose in the display on that stall. The one with all the different things made of roses. You know… teapots, cups and saucers.’

Phil hunched his shoulders, holding his hands palm up. ‘They all looked the same to me. A flower’s a flower. Was the one with that fit looking redhead standing behind?’

‘Christ, Phil. How could you look at anyone else when you’ve got someone like Sophie? You must be mad.’ Jack scowled at his best friend.

‘Hey! I love Sophie. I’ve got eyes in my head, though. You can’t help noticing a good looking girl.’

The florist coughed loudly before painting a big smile on her face. ‘Did you want these gift-wrapped?

‘Eh. Oh Yeah. Sorry. How much are they?’ Phil asked warily, rifling through his wallet.

‘For Christ’s sake. I’ll buy her the bloody things if you’re afraid of spending too much on her.’ Jack pulled his wallet out. ‘Can you tie a big silk bow around them please and use a gift box with a water well so’s they’ll keep fresh for longer.’

‘Here’s the card sir, if you’d like to write it out now.’

Jack picked up the pen, hesitated for just a moment before passing it to Phil. ‘Here. Or would you like me to write out that for you as well?’

1b + 1d two friends who are in love with the same person.

‘Whoa! Look at this for a bit of kit.’ Brad was gazing lovingly at a sporty number in pillar-box red.

‘You’re joking. Right?’ Jack laughed at his friend.

‘I don’t think so, mate. It’s perfect. Tara’ll love it.’

‘Yeah. Sure she will. Plenty of room for a baby seat in that,’ Jack said, pointing at the narrow gap between the two front seats and the boot.

‘She’ll understand. Last bit of freedom before we’re tied to a baby for the next eighteen years.’

‘She won’t even fit in the front seat in a couple of months. What happens after the baby is born? You just gonna leave her at home all day? D’you know. I sometimes wonder why such a beautiful girl got stuck with a jerk like you.’

‘C’mon mate. Don’t be like that. You’re getting to be a right bore lately.’


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