A conversation…(creative writing practice)


I’m trying to work on believable conversation.  I’m just going to “roll” with it, but let me give you the “dechromed” version of the scene.

John likes to tinker with things.  He’s an engineer and has decided to work on something.  His wife, Mary, tries to be supportive of his ideas, but they sometimes tend toward the near ridiculous.  John wants her approval, but isn’t sure if he’ll get it.

After I write it I’m going to “strike out” (like this) things that I edit out.

Let’s see what happens.


John looked up as the front door opened and his wife walked in.

“Hi sweetheart!  How was your day?”, he smiled up at her.

“Just another day, you know how it goes,” she responded, taking off her coat and hanging it on a hook by the front door.  Mary looked around, noting that John was busy with a pencil and paper, pressing down on the coffee table for support.  John always seemed to want to draw out his ideas and present them to Mary as a if he were a child presenting a picture from school.

“What are you working on, there?” she asked.

John looked up at her almost hesitantly.  The idea he was working on was not anything earth shaking, but he wanted to invest time and energy into trying to make it a reality.  It was a simple enough idea, in his mind, but not one that everyone would find important or desirable.

“Why don’t you come over and sit down with me and I’ll show you?” he asked.

Mary smiled.  She stepped over to sit beside John on the couch.  She leaned into him as he sat up, paper in one hand, the other arm moving around her shoulders.

“I think I have a way to make soldiers safer, if I can get it to work,” John said, showing her the picture.

The picture was a fairly simple drawing, with small notations to different parts.  It appeared to be some kind of medieval armor or something.

“You mean like from one of those computer games?” she asked, knowing John’s love for such things.

John smiled,”Well, yes, sort of.  The games just assume such an armor would be perfected and all that, and we’re years away from the complicated electronics and advanced power cells and such that you see on those games.  This idea is more basic,”  John took a deep breath,”the biggest reason people don’t wear a suit of armor into battle today is the fact that it’s so heavy they can barely move.  I want to use some hydraulics and low power switches to make it so that the person wearing the armor wouldn’t be so exhausted just by moving around.”

John waited for Mary to respond.  He knew that this wasn’t something she was interested in, but he wanted her to approve approval.

Mary smiled indulgently,”Well, sweetie, it sounds like a noble concept, but complicated.  I think it would be a good thing if you can make it work.”

She gave him a peck on the cheek, and stood up.  “I’m going to go take a shower and get into comfy clothes.”

“Okay, sweetie.  Do you want some dinner?” he asked.


I based this conversation on the sorts of real life interactions I have with my wife, but I’m just not sure about it.  The words in blue for example, I’m not sure what to do there.  I feel like it should work, but those words… don’t taste right.

The use of commas and such in conversation throws me as well.  Getting the punctuation right is sort of important, and I want to do it right.  Getting it right is no problem, as a quick google search will give me what I need, but commas, to me, indicate a breath or hesitation.

Take that last sentence there.  “Getting it right is no problem,breath as a quick google search will give me what I need,new idea but commas,explanatory pause to me,return to idea indicate a breath or hesitation.”

The blue letters are explanations of the commas.  I don’t think that everyone who read this would trip over the commas, but I would notice whether someone else had used too many or too few.

Then of course, there’s the basic interaction.  When I write a conversation, my mind says that it’s coming out as halting and unrealistic.  When I read it again, I don’t know.  The more I think about it, the more I think that conversation will be something I just sort of have to “bull” through until I have a larger section to consider.

What do you think?



Filed under Creative ideas, Thoughts

10 responses to “A conversation…(creative writing practice)

  1. As you say, punctuation is important. I noticed that you have some of your quotation marks facing the wrong way! I think this is because there should be a space before an opening quote. I expect you know that the opening one resembles 66 and the closing one 99. A space is required after a comma and two after a full stop (period). (I hope I’m not being too picky – the proof reading option on the dashboard may help.)
    Thanks for the follow, I’ll follow yours too. Sue

    • You are totally right! When I type, it just… “looks funny” to me to hit that space after the comma before quotes. I will try to remember that in the future, because when I looked back, I can definitely see those. While typing here, though, the quotes just look like the little “dots” the keyboard shows, not an open or close quote, you know?

      Thank you!

      • On the WordPress theme you have chosen, the spaces after the end of sentences seem to get closed up. I am definitely typing two and the finished article looks like one. I find that hard to read!
        Do you preview your posts? I usually find loads of errors in mine at that stage. Sue

      • Weird, thought I replied and approved this once already… Anyway, no, I haven’t been, not every (or even most) times. I think it’s time I started, though. 😉

  2. I’m no expert but I’m going to throw in my thoughts:

    The conversation had its ups and downs. I like the beginning. Striking out that long description was perfect, it added a bit of surprise. But from then on out the dialogue didnt seem natural for the characters. We have an inventor, he is enthusiastic about his concepts and is giddy at the idea of outside opinion. He has been waiting eagerly for his beloved wife to arrive to tell her about his newest creation, although, he is hesitant since its not something he truly believes in…yet.

    The wife sounds like a calm and collected woman. What I think lacked in her character was a more descriptive approach to her remarks; maybe a bit of insight into what she was thinking?

    When the inventor began to talk about his work you needed to decide in which spectrum he would lie: incredibly excited or down right depressed. An inventor is an artist with machinery, they tend to be highly emotional and dramatic. The way he describes his drawings is too detached, once again I reference the earlier recommendation.

    All in all, its a great start and its definitely well written. Just try and create an entire life behind your characters, even though they might just appear for one post.



    • Yeah, it’s that “natural” feel that eludes me. I have a LOT of trouble in conversation in real life, so it’s kind of like a foreign language.

      The idea of more insight to their thoughts is something I was considering, and I think that may really be the key. I think that when people have a conversation they have a mental level that goes along with it that really decides what they are thinking. Maybe this was a real “effort” for her to sit down and hear about another of her husband’s wild schemes.

      I am going to try it again after this rattles around in my brain for a bit. Thank you for the insights! They are very helpful. 🙂

  3. I have a similar issue with commas especially because English is my second language… that’s why i decided not use any punctuation in my poems and let people make up their own minds about it. Your conversation sounds real, however, I was expecting a bit more reaction on Marry’s part in the end…

    • That’s the thing, though. What is she supposed to say? “Oh, Darling! It’s wonderful! I am overcome with your abilities and creativity!” is almost as bad as “Are you nuts? The time and cost to invest in something like this is way outside of what we have available!”
      I imagine her to be thinking,”Ok, support my husband in what he’s doing, but… I just want to get changed and relax, not think of changing the world right now.”

      I don’t know. I have a conversation in my head that goes along with Gerald’s story(another post) that I really want to get across in a believable and understandable way. Thank you for commenting, it helps me. 🙂

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