Saturday, 22 June 2019

Weekly writing prompt: one-sided conversation


One-sided conversation

Your weekly writing prompt is a lovely exercise, "one-sided conversation", with multiple follow-on bits, if you want to do a quick writing stint each day. You can just do the first part, as a ten-minuter; if you want to do more, I suggest you don't keep reading down until you've done the previous one, as it's more fun that way. There are five parts altogether, so if you fancy doing a little series of them, that's five days of 10 mins a day.

I've put pictures between each part to help you not read down by accident, so they stay a surprise! Also, that means I need to tell you up here that each of these weekly prompts loosely connects with one of the Summer of Writing workshops: this one links with Characters Unlike You, because the shifts that emerge with the different parts are brilliant practice for moving into different characters' heads. Most of the workshops are waiting-list only, but there are still 5 places left on the characters workshop if you want to book. (Details here.) So... let's start!

Part one

Write an important, emotional conversation, just the spoken words, from one side only - we're only "hearing" what the one person is saying, but make it so we can guess what the other character is saying as well.

Some ideas for content: 🌱 firing someone 🌱 a break-up 🌱 telling someone about an accident or death 🌱 ending a friendship 🌱 declaring one's love 🌱 admitting a long-held secret

University Parks avenue

Part two

Now, write the missing half of the conversation - in a way that changes the meaning dramatically! (It an also change what the content actually is, so we thought it was about a break-up but it's not, or whatever)

Hollyhocks at Freud

Part three

Now write a backstory / event / internal monlogue that casts a completely different light on character A's words and actions.

Swan on the Cherwell

Part four

Now write a backstory / event / internal monlogue that casts a completely different light on character B's words and actions.

University Park daisies

Part five

Finally - who is character C, the eavesdropper? Who was overhearing half the conversation, right at the start? How much do they know about the other information? What effects do their misunderstanding(s) / extra knowledge have?


That's the lot! If you did them all and had fun with them, do let me know on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, or lovely old email (megan@thewritersgreenhouse.co.uk) - it's always fun and encouraging to hear how people are using the prompts!


This is the 7th of 12 weekly writing prompts in the run-up to the Summer of Writing workshops in Oxford this August. As I said, each of the prompts loosely connects with one of the Summer of Writing workshops: this one links with Characters Unlike You, as the shifts that emerge with the different parts are brilliant practice for moving into different characters' heads. Most of the workshops are waiting-list only, but there are still 5 places left on the characters workshop if you want to book. (Details here.)

You can see all the previous prompts here and there's also a new prompt each week, so you can subscribe to the blog here:

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You can also follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to get reminders. The full list of Summer of Writing workshops is...

  • Saturday 3 August: Page-Turners: how to keep the reader reading – whether you’re writing literary fiction or a pot-boiler thriller
  • Saturday 10 August: Writing In Scenes: explore how to balance the different ingredients of a scene and ways of approaching the “big scenes” in your story
  • Saturday 17 August: Characters Unlike You: explore a range of ways to write characters unlike yourself and vary a story's cast, while you develop new characters
  • Saturday 24 August: Hone Your Style: explore what makes quality prose, from angela carter’s richness to margaret atwood’s restraint, and hone your own style
  • Saturday 31 August: Publishing: how to submit your writing for publication: find where to send it, sort your layout, and write synopses and cover letters
Read more details about the Summer of Writing workshops and book your places here. NB: Workshops are limited to 12 places and fill up quickly, so do book in advance if you can.

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