Stumped

claire-sheldon
Photo (c) Claire Sheldon

Stumped

Words: I plead guilty

 “Why did you call the office landline?” She kicked off her heels.

“You weren’t picking your mobile…” He straightened the penguin.

“I was in an important meeting…!” Her bag was next.

“It was a question of our son’s future.” He fiddled with the pen stand.

“What if you were in a meeting? Would you also have left it?”

“Of course! I know my priorities.”

“Then why didn’t you check the admission papers before leaving?”

“Why didn’t you?”

“If I have to do everything, what will you do?”

“Put the blame on you.” He grinned.

“Very smart.” She seethed.

“I am glad you agree.” He smirked.

“I wonder you can say that after today’s fiasco.”

“I am not such a fool as you.”

“Are you calling me the fool?” She clenched her fists.

“I chose you. You chose me. So who’s the fool?”

 ***

A/N I overshot the word limit heavily but with a purpose – a bit of any experiment really. And I would appreciate your help. It’s about the dialogue tag. I used the first one (she kicked off her heels) to denote who’s speaking. And then I felt like adding a few more and ultimately went overboard. But I am not sure if they worked or not. In fact I think it didnt add, perhaps even detracted. But this is something that I have been wrestling with. Also is it okay to use just one dialogue tag? Wouldnt it have looked odd? Questions, questions and I am quite stumped 😉

What do you think? Could I request you to read it again minus the dialogue tags and let me know your thoughts? But I understand that you may be too busy. Thanks a lot for visiting – have a great day 🙂

 

Stumped

“Why did you call the office landline?” She kicked off her heels.

“You weren’t picking your mobile…”

“I was in an important meeting…!”

“It was a question of our son’s future.”

“What if you were in a meeting? Would you also have left it?”

“Of course! I know my priorities.”

“Then why didn’t you check the admission papers before leaving?”

“Why didn’t you?”

“If I have to do everything, what will you do?”

“Put the blame on you.”

“Very smart.”

“I am glad you agree.”

“I wonder you can say that after today’s fiasco.”

“I am not such a fool as you.”

“Are you calling me the fool

“I chose you. You chose me. So who’s the fool?”

 ***

Written for Friday Fictioneers – a story in 100 words or less. Thanks to Rochelle for hosting the challenge and Claire Sheldon for the photo prompt. To read the other stories inspired by this prompt click here.

For readers of Moonshine, here's Chapter 154

Thanks for visiting, have a great day 🙂

Published by

Dahlia

Email me at mysilverstreaks@gmail.com or tweet me @mysilverstreaks

56 thoughts on “Stumped”

  1. Loved the first one as slyly you can feel the counter argument and reflective of guilt somewhere, love the way you express certain things without saying much…hmmmm keep it up …..both are good in their ways though….mastering the art of expressing…..

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I like the story; it’s inventive and well told.
    I agree with the other comments; the first version is the better. Using what you refer to as ‘dialogue tags’ doesn’t only help the reader to keep track of who’s speaking, it also, as Jyotsna points out, allows you to comment on what’s being said. With that in mind, I think you could have improved on both versions by using fewer, punchier tags. So, for example, keep “She clenched her fists”, which adds intensity to her words, but omit “Her bag was next”. When you only have 100 words, every single one of them must tell the story. You want to show that the man is an irritating person; do you need three actions to show that, or can you do it with just two?
    Well done, asking for constructive criticism! It’s far and away the best way to improve, and people are very shy about providing it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks a lot Penny! Really appreciate your taking the time to give such constructive criticism- exactly what I was looking for 🙂 Even I felt there were too many dialogue with tags in the first and too few in the second but wasn’t quite sure which way to go. Thanks for sorting it out for me 🙂

      Like

  3. Dear Dahlia,

    I liked the way you shared your process. If it were me I would perhaps cut a line or two of dialogue and add a tag here and there. When there’s only one tag like the second, while the dialogue is tight, it’s easy to get lost in who’s saying what. The first version was easier to follow. Both were good. Love the last line. 😉

    Shalom,

    Rochelle

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Rochelle for being so sporting and giving us the freedom to fool around (once in a while!) Appreciate the feedback- I am off to ponder which dialogues you would cut. Last line is my favourite too 😀

      Like

  4. The consensus is the first is better and I agree. I also agree with Penny and Rochelle that a bit could have been chopped off without losing the feel of the piece.
    Some couples live to argue, don’t they? 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Dahlia. I always enjoy your stories, this one included. I liked both versions and think a version somewhere between the two would serve you best. Keep the beats like “kicked off her heels” that provide helpful direction or characterization like “He fiddled with the pen stand,” which implied he was nervous. Delete those that don’t add to the story or add very little like “Her bag was next.” In other words, when you edit, apply the same principle to the beats as you do to any narrative. FOR ME, if the speakers are saying something substantive, essential to the story–and why would they speak otherwise?–a beat every three or four lines of dialog is sufficient.

    Wonderful insights as always, both in the meat of the story and in your writing style.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I have written a few FF prompts using mostly dialogue, but I think it needs to be broken up now and then for the sake of clarity. When I go back and read it over, if I’m confused, then my readers will be, too.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A couple of dialogue tags would have been enough in this short piece, but I think you could have tightened it up more by losing a couple of exchanges. Keep him fiddling with her desk, though, or it wouldn’t connect with the photo.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. In short, getting married might make us accept that we are fools 😜😁
    Liked both the versions…with a word limitation as such I think I would prefer the second version…conveys what needs to be conveyed short and crisp

    Liked by 1 person

  9. On asking for and giving constructive criticism: I am certainly not an experienced, authoritative writer, and so I hesitate to make suggestions about something I couldn’t have written nearly so well myself. I love all the supportive, encouraging comments, but I would also like any ideas you all may have on how to improve my style. We are a bit shy about both asking and receiving, I think.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. When there are visual aids, plain dialogues suit just fine. But when I’m just faced with words, the little extra description enhances the dialogues. For example,
    ‘I love you’
    ‘I’ll Kill you.’
    or
    ‘I love you’, He winked at her, unleashing his smile guaranteed to make her knees week.
    ‘I’ll kill you’, She shot daggers with her eyes, but with a hint of a blush on her cheeks.
    It gives a complete different vibe to the overall scene. So my vote is for descriptive actions along with dialogues.

    Cheers, Varad.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I also prefer the first version. The action helps to break up the dialogue which threatens to combine all into one in the reader’s mind. That aside, I love the bickering between the two characters 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I liked the second. On occasions I just can’t bring myself to trim a story, yet they say a novel can often be trimmed to a hundred words. Well at least my novels can be.🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I first see what I can omit. The purse could have been left out. The action in the dialogue is good but with a 100-word limit, you have to cut something. A few actions are sufficient. Tags can be left out if it’s clear who’s speaking. Sometimes I rewrite something to cut back but keep interest up. In the end, it’s your story. I think of the word limit as a challenge. I find and read posts on editing and revising. I also look up advice on Google. All the best. Good writing, Dahlia. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

      1. We were all new to WP at one time 😀 It happens and do check out the like button too – I couldnt access that either. All the best

        Like

  14. I liked the first one. There aren’t too many breaks in the dialogue tags and it only helps create visual in the mind of the reader so no worries.

    As always you delight our hearts with another tale of fresh characters and expressions.

    Liked by 1 person

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