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II. THE ELEMENTS
 

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3.Dialogue

 
(iv) SWAPPING CONTENT
 

Here’s another trick, not quite so cheap. Try swapping content from one speaker to the other.

A: ‘I’ll need to catch the 8.30 train to get there in time for lunch.’
B: ‘I’ll drive you to the station after I’ve taken the kids to school.’

—becomes—

A: ‘I’ll need to get there in time for lunch.’
B: ‘The 8.30 train then? You want me to drive you to the station?’
A: ‘Is that okay? After you’ve taken the kids to school.’
B: ‘No problem.’

Questions popping up again! But the main lesson in swapping material around—and it’s only a training exercise—is that a listener is always guessing at what’s in a speaker’s mind, even while the speaker’s still speaking. Here’s an exaggerated version—

A: ‘I’ll need to get there in time—‘
B: ‘For lunch? So you’ll want to catch the 8.30 train?’
A: ‘Can you drive me to the station?’
B: ‘Should be okay, if—‘
A: ‘The kids? You’ll have time to take them to school first, surely.’

Interruptions are probably something to do in small doses; a long passage of dialogue where everyone kept jumping in on everyone else would soon become jerky and irritating. Nonetheless, it’s undeniably alive.

OTHER DIALOGUE TOPICS

(i) VIRTUES OF DIALOGUE

(ii) THE SPIRIT OF INTERACTIVITY

(iii) QUESTIONS

(v) ADDING SPEAKERS

(v) WHO’S SPEAKING?

Other Elements Topics

1. Action

2. Setting   

4. Thinking Inside         

 

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