Topics could include:
- Television programmes
- Chocolate bars
If completing with friends or family, you could make it a competition. A point for every item on your list that isn’t on their list. If you’re doing this activity as part of home-schooling you could ask children to write as many nouns, adjectives, verbs, etc.
Once you’ve got the hang of this you could move to thinking about dialogue. Give yourself 60 seconds to write as many ways of verbally greeting someone that you can think of. These could be “Hi, Hello, Hey” etc. and also local phrases.
When you’ve finished your timer, have a look at your list. What type of person would use each greeting?
This is the most basic premise of playwriting: Each character should have a unique voice. We achieve this in playwriting through our choice of language. For example, The Doctor in the BBC’s Doctor Who uses words and phrases that are distinct from their companions.
When I first moved to Hull, I found the local greeting “Now Then!” a bit startling. “Now then what? I would think in a panic before realising they were just saying hello. Someone who says “Now then!” may be a different type of person to someone who says “Good Morning.” (Also remember that people use different language in different settings with different people. The language I use in front of my Mum is still different to way I talk to friends… even at 31 years old.)
Set yourself another 60 second timer and write as many different ways of verbally telling someone you don’t want to talk to them. Imagine that someone has approached you with one of your above greetings, how could politely or rudely communicate that you don’t wish to speak to them? (These could be “sorry I’m busy” or “go away” etc.
Once you’ve done this, choose your favourite “hello” and your favourite “I don’t want to talk to you.”
Write a short scene for two characters, no more than 12 lines of dialogue. (Six lines per character.)
The scene should start with the first character saying your favourite “hello” and the second character saying your favourite “I don’t want to talk to you". By choosing these lines you have made a decision about how the character speaks. Make sure your characters stay consistent throughout the scene.
Feel free to share this with us via social media or just write it for yourself. Whatever is most useful for you.