December 15, 2010

Brain Cardio

Since I’m still a little brain melty from finals, for this entry I took a cue from my favorite fantasy writer (oh please, don’t give me that look, if it’s not apparent at this juncture that I’m a geek, you’ve really got to get your geekdar looked at).  On his twitter feed this past weekend was posted the following prompt:

Write a 5-10 page two character dialogue with no tags or blocking. Dialogue only. Try to evoke character, conflict, and plot with this only. Include: A problem, 2 distinct individuals, a fantasy/sf element. Avoid: long monologues, exposition. Use context, not explanations.

It’s been a long time since I’ve written anything that wasn’t academic or blog-style.  I could definitely use work on my prose writing, and this is the perfect excuse.  Eager to participate in the exercise, I sat myself down and put this together.  I hope you enjoy (especially you, Mister Sanderson).  How do you guys think I did?



“We’re trapped.”


“Like rats.”

“Rats in a cage.”


“Did you remember…”

“…to double-check for an automated heat-sensing trip spell?  Yah.”

“…what about…”

“A semi-intelligent observation construct disguised as regular household items or decorative mantle pieces?  Yes yes.”


“A complex self-triggering ritual that would lock things up behind us the moment we passed its ‘go’ zone?  Yep.”



“Guards.  You know, regular, human, two eyes, carry swords, about as much brains as a tree-stump between the lot of them…”

“…Well… I didn’t see anybody on our way in…”

“Gods, Catherine, how is it that you remember to tie your boot laces in the morning?”

“Hey, you have two eyes too you know.”

“But my job was to pick the lock.  It was your job to get us through any security.”

“But I ran every seeking spell that I could think of!”

“Security includes Guards.”

“Hey, what do you think I am, perfect?  My massive magical abilities have to count for something.”

“Obviously not common sense.”

“I heard that.”

“So… what…. What do we do?”

“You shush for a moment and let me think.  Clearly there hasn’t been anyone here in some time because there was dust on the dais…”

“Or they’re just piss-poor house-keepers… or they’re afraid to clean in and around their items of massive, mythic proportions.”

“Speaking of, you’ve got it, right?”

“Yep, safe and sound.”

“Good.  Okay.  Decoy in place?”

“What do you think I am, an idiot?”

“…I’m not going to answer that.  Think.  Need to think.”

“Why don’t you pace?  It always helps me to think when I pace.”

“Good thought.  Got another?”


“It’s the inner sanctum of the big bad guy lair.  I think they knew enough about basic plot elements to omit ‘windows’ from their master floor plan.  Besides, if they had windows, do you think we would have gone to the trouble to pick, confuse, confound, befuddle and otherwise bamboozle our way in here?  This heist would have been a hell of a lot easier if… oh…”

“Like I said.  Windows.”

“Really high up windows, but windows.”

“If only we had a way to get up there.”

“Basic levitation spell.”

“You can do that?”

“Better living through the arcane arts.”

“Yeah, no kidding.”

“It’ll cost you, but nothing you won’t miss for more than a week.”

“What do you mean by… ow!”

“Sorry, need bits of your hair to bind the spell.”

“Couldn’t you warn me next time?”

“Only if you stop accusing me of lacking things like common sense.”

“Okay, how long are we going to drag that one out for?”

“As long as it takes.  You should be feeling a little…”


“Like that.”

“So how long does this last, and how do I control it?”

“You keep quiet and let me work that voodoo that I do and… oh….”


“It shouldn’t be doing that.”

“Doing what?”



“I know, I know, stay calm, working on it.”

“I can’t feel my feet!”

“Panicking is only going to distract me…”

“My feet… are on the ground… without my body…. How can I run away with no feet?  How can I be a thief if I can’t run away!?”

“Oh please, there are more pivotal body parts you could be missing…”

“I don’t want to be missing any of them!”

“Look, I can’t force a re-assimilation if you’re resisting me so just take a moment, breathe, and find a happy place to be in for a bit.”

“Wait, you need to force my body to take back my own feet!?  But… they’ve been with me my whole life!  What do you mean they could just… vanish one day… and not come back… and the rest of me wouldn’t miss them!?  This is why I hate magic!”

“Hush.  Really.  Hush.”

“…okay… feeling slightly better.”

“I should say you are.”

“How can you be so...? Oh.  Right.  Feet.”

“Going to need some more time to wipe the spell, re-bind it and try this again.”

“Don’t think we’ve got more time, I can hear them at the door already.”

“Well… then… distract them or something.”

“What do you want me to do?”

“I don’t care, as long as you do it fast and let me work.  Need more hair though.”

“Ow!  Quite it!”

“GO!  That door’s gonna open any minute and then, oh and then, we’ve had it.  You, me, prison for the rest of eternity… I hope they chop my head off rather than let me rot in jail.  I’ve always wanted to be a pretty corpse.”

“Decapitation really doesn’t go with that outfit…”

“No, but defenestration will.  And decapitation is preferable to decomposition.  Go!”

“Yes ma’am.”


Em said...

That was adorable!

Rob Archer said...

Damn amazing. When do we get to read the rest :)