Lesson 5: Write Some Dialogue
At this stage, our characters should be well developed and much travelled. But how do our characters interact, and with what consequences for our storyline. Are they friends or enemies? Does someone we left behind in lesson 1 have a role to play later in the story? Hopefully, the StorySpinner writer will have engineered some form of confrontation or meeting that is critical to the story. It will be up to the pupils to imagine how the meeting might go in terms of a dialogue.
We have reached a point in the story where at least two of our characters are about to confront each other. But what do they say? You need to write down everything that is said. You can do this in two ways:
1. Direct Speech
Use speech marks, full stops and commas to write down exactly what is said between the characters. Lay it out with line breaks, so that we see clearly who said what. Use ‘he said’ or ‘she said’ to show who is speaking. If you’re feeling adventurous use other words instead of said (e.g. muttered, bawled, whispered, replied, exclaimed…)
If you’re feeling really adventurous interrupt the sections of speech with sentences about how a character is feeling or behaving, or a description of an action of event. (e.g. “I hate you,” said Sarah. She was pleased that she had finally said it. John looked hurt. “And I hate you,” he said. He turned and left the room.) Remember that characters have different ways of speaking and may use particular words or phrases a lot. Remember too that they have certain dominant emotions that will colour the conversation. (See previous lessons)
2. Indirect Speech
Write down how the conversation as described by just one of the characters, so that what we are hearing is a summary of what was said, rather than the exact words. In this case, you won’t need to use speech marks. Instead you may have to be careful about the tenses of your verbs. Here’s an example: “So I told John that I hated him, and was really glad to have finally said it. He looked really upset and told me that he hated me too. Then he left.”
In both cases, try to think how the conversation you are inventing could reveal some way for our story to end. Could a secret be revealed, or a promise be made or some combining of resource and/or information by the characters happen that allows everyone to finish their journey or quest happily and/or successfully? Hopefully, the Storyspinner has already given you some help with this.
The pupils should produce no more than 200 words. Ideally, they should type their descriptions into a Word or Text document. Alternatively, an A4 template can be provided. They can work individually or in groups. The StorySpinner will have indicated via the letter and the story excerpt the specifics of which characters should be in the scenes that the pupils create and what narrative tensions and emotions should be implicit in the scenes. These outputs need to sent back to the StorySpinner as soon as possible, by posting electronic documents to the Web site. Pupils' work can be uploaded either as individual documents or as a collated whole. If necessary, paper documents can be returned to the NAWE office by post.
If time allows, pupils could write a passage with direct speech and then convert it into indirect speech, as described from the point of view of one of the characters. Alternatively, teachers may wish to workshop the dialogue through drama, and then submit the resulting scene as a piece of theatre. This is perfectly acceptable.
See notes on Lesson 2
KS3 Curriculum Points
- the features of different types of sentence, including statements, questions and commands, and how to use them [for example, imperatives in commands]
- the grammar of complex sentences, including clauses, phrases and connectives
- the purposes and organisational features of paragraphs, and how ideas can be linked.