Weekend writing challenge: Steal from the real — use someone else's words in your fiction


In honor of an intriguing new UK initiative to incorporate bits of overheard dialogue into writing—poems, flash fiction and scripts, the best to be published in an anthology—how about some Stolen Dialogue Prompts for the weekend? (And, hey, where’s our domestic version of this initiative?)

* * *

WRITING PROMPTS: Stolen Dialogue 
Feel free to take the following prompts home or post a
response (500 words or fewer, funny, sad or stirring) in the Comments
section below. By posting, you’ll be automatically entered in our
occasional around-the-office swag drawings. If you’re having trouble with the captcha code sticking, e-mail it to me
at writersdigest@fwmedia.com, with “Promptly” in the subject line, and
I’ll make sure it gets up.

1. (Inspired by a recent restaurant visit, write a scene based on, or including, the following dialogue—)

“It’s her again.”
She holds the phone out.
“Don’t answer it then.”
“I don’t have a choice.”

2. Or, alternately: 


After reading this, take the first conversation you have—no matter what—and work a sentence from it into the opening line of a short story.

You might also like:

  • No Related Posts

6 thoughts on “Weekend writing challenge: Steal from the real — use someone else's words in your fiction

  1. Evelyn

    “Margery called me three times this week,” says Phyllis as she drops a binder into the file cabinet.

    “She can be relentless,” says Bernice. She swallows a gulp from her coffee mug. “What does she want this time?”

    “Oh, you’re going to laugh. She wants me to play the wicked witch of the east in the community theater’s production of the Wizard of Oz.”

    “You’re not serious?” says Bernice with a giggle.

    “Yes! Doesn’t that just top them all? She said that she’s desperate because no one else can fit into the shoes except Dorothy. They’re a size five.”

    Bernice puts her cup down. “Fit into the shoes?”­

    “Yes, the ruby slippers. The wicked witch of the east is wearing them when she’s flattened by the house.”

    Puzzled, Bernice shakes her head.

    Phyllis straightens her right index and middle finger and holds them together like a pair of legs. She wags them at Bernice and then covers all but the tips with her left hand. “Remember the scene, where you just see the witch’s feet sticking out from underneath the wreckage? That’s the part Margery wants me to play. And she expects me to attend two rehearsals a week to perfect it!”

    The phone rings. Phyllis checks the caller id. “It’s her again.” She holds the phone out.

    “Don’t answer it then.”

    “I don’t have a choice.” Phyllis lifts the receiver to her ear. “Hi Margery, have you found another size five yet? Oh — hmmm — Ok.” Phyllis hangs up.

    “Well?” asks Bernice.

    “The wizard granted my request. It turns out the shoes are a size six, and fit Margery perfectly.”

  2. Takeyla

    I always wanted to try one of these, so here I go. I choose the first one and decided to use one of the situations from the book I am writing. Off the top of my head:

    It’s her again.”
    She holds the phone out.
    “Don’t answer it then.”
    “I don’t have a choice.”
    "You do, you choose to be here with me, right?"
    "It’s not the same, she’s the mother of my kids." He explains.
    "And what will I be in a few months, don’t play me like that." She glared at him, rubbing her belly.
    "Im sorry." He pushes the button on his bluetooth ear piece and says "Hey honey" in a tone that enrages her so deeply that her caramel colored face turns beat red.
    "Yeah, you a sorry, a sorry son of a…"
    "…What? No, that’s just some chick snapping on someone in the booth next to me." He explains to the ear piece. "Let me go outside so I can hear you." He slides from his cozy spot next to his mistress and walks through the double glass doors of the restaurant.
    "Did he just?" She asks herself. "Oh hell no, I aint the one." She takes one last sip of her chocolate shake and waddles her way out the door as well.
    The cool autumn air meet her with the same chill she felt in the booth in the restaurant. He glanced at her, not moving from the spot he was leaning near on the passenger side of his SUV. She stood for a moment, staring at him, smiling and chatting away on his phone as if their relationship together never even existed and the one he tried to escape was the most important thing to him. She wiped away the few tears that managed to escape, straightened her wind blown black curls and pulled her suede jacket tight and got in her car. She looked at him, through her rear view mirror, hoping maybe he’d rush over to stop her, but he did no such thing.
    “I’m so done with this game, I can do better.” She said out loud to herself. She put her car in drive and hit the gas only making it a few feet before she stopped for a moment and threw the car in reverse and speed toward the man she loved. Metal and tires screeched and a side mirror and cell phone crashed on the concrete.
    She smiled glancing into her rear view mirror as she slowly drove off.
    Before she left the parking lot her cell phone buzzed, she had a text message. It was her. The message read: He’s leaving me. You finally got what you wanted, you home wrecker. This aint over.

  3. Mark James

    Sasha, I’m always in awe of people who can write stuff that rhymes. That was great.

    Dorraine, when I read that I could hear "Walk This Way" blaring in the background . . .

    Under the brilliance of eternal light that falls from Heaven’s sky, at a corner table in the Café White Light, two angels sat at a table made of solid gold. Blue Tooth headsets glittered on their left ears. For the moment, the lines were open.

    “How come I got the Last Call For Help suicide line?” Michael said. “What did you get?”

    Lucifer clenched his teeth. In his blonde hair, the color of a perfect noon day sun, two tiny black horns sprang up. “Your escapades have earned me twenty four hours on the Hope Through Prayer hotline,” he said.

    “That wasn’t my fault,” Michael said. “It’s not like they don’t ever fight.”

    “The Middle East is a simmering pot,” Lucifer said, “One wrong word breathed in a mortal’s sleep, and it boils over. What weren’t you thinking?”

    Before Michael could answer, the air between them shimmered. A holograph of a woman standing on the roof of a building took shape. She was pressing a cell phone to her ear.

    “It’s her again,” he said. “If it was up to me, I’d tell her have a nice flight and send Thanatos for her.”

    “Keep talking that way,” Lucifer said, “and we’ll both get a minor eternity here.” He looked out the window. “White light. Who can see anything with all that goodness glaring in your face?”

    An angel walked out of the light, through the window and sat beside Michael. “How are you both enjoying your time consoling mortals?” Raphael said.

    “This one keeps calling. I don’t know what to tell her anymore,” Michael said. “Why doesn’t she just do it?”

    “Because she wants someone to tell her life is worth living,” Raphael said. “If she were in your army, and you wanted her to fight through a difficult battle, what would you say?”

    Gold light bathed Michael’s immortal face, made him shine with heart stopping beauty. “Susan,” he said, “look. You have two choices. I can’t tell you which one is better. I can only tell you that your kid, Pierce, shouldn’t have to grow up without a mom cause you lost one fight.”

    Raphael nodded, looked to Lucifer, who was staring intently at a holograph on his side of the table. “No,” he was saying, “it’s not that I can’t snap my fingers and give you gold–I mean dollars–to pay the rent, it’s that you’d have to give me something.”

    Lucifer listened. The woman in the holograph was on her knees, a rosary twined between her fingers, her lips moving silently. “Any other day, I’d want your soul. But I’m kind of having a special day.” He nodded. “Yes. I understand. Of course I do. An answer will come to you, but to receive it, you must do a – -,” Lucifer gritted his teeth, “a good deed. You must promise to lighten someone’s heart.”

    Raphael passed through the window, his robe, the color of freshly whipped cream, billowing out behind him. Immortals are not much inclined to gamble, but Raphael would have bet his wings that Michael would be more careful the next time he lured Lucifer into a game of Craft and War.

  4. Dorraine

    Hi,Zac! Thanks for the prompt. I picked the second one. This is conversation I recently overheard between my husband and daughter.

    “Grandpa has always been old at heart. He listened to Peggy Lee and Rosemary Clooney. Not Elvis though, he wasn’t that good. He couldn’t stand it when I listened to Led Zeppelin, so when he’d gripe, I’d put on Aerosmith and crank up the volume.”

  5. Sasha. D.

    A little story bout 2 people in the age of 30 – 35, who was going..to the opera.

    "Oh, what a great plan!!"
    Heard I from someone,
    Who was talking to someone
    Bout some great plan.

    – You’re wright! What if it could be,
    If there was an elephant in me?!
    Living for some years
    And growing his long ears.

    He could make my stomach – flat!
    With a radius of hat!
    He coud put his "little" nose
    In some kinds of "little" rows!!

    He could make my skin turn – grey!
    I will always be too late!
    And my foot someday could grow..
    Till some kind of sixty four!!

    – Ouu, NOO!! ( the second screamed )
    You are talking, like a wind!
    Please, be gentle! Please you, STOP!!
    That could be my latest drop!!

    You are talking bout some sh*t!
    This is like the worsest cheat!
    In a game I need to play
    Till my skin will turn on grey!!

    I was talking bout a plan..
    What if you..Could be a man!!
    With a long and shiny beard
    And a small a piece of hair!!

    With a long and dirty penis!
    With a glass of darkish "Guiness"!
    Sitting on a couch at night
    Looking up at silver light.

    Watching for a football game
    Or some kind of porno – lame!!
    Thinking bout a girl or two
    And about your fading cool.

    You could stare up at the ceiling,
    Hearing your TV is drilling..
    Playing with a shade of wall..
    Understanding..you’re alone!!

    – Oh my God! Your plan is bad!
    I could never be a dad!!
    How could you that shit imagine??
    I’m your wife – and this is endin’!!

COMMENT