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NaNo 2006 Winner
Exercise #219

Exercise #219: Craft
Posted 7/6/07

I once heard one coworker tell another, “Did you see xxxxx [television show] last night? The conversation between the two leads about xxxx [delicate subject] was so natural!”

My first thought was to wonder how often she’d heard “natural” conversation about that subject, quickly followed by wondering what she defined as “natural.”

Natural conversation doesn’t lend itself to either television or books. People stumble and stutter, utter nonsense words while they think (“um” being the most common), change tracks and sometimes wander off completely.

For today’s exercise, read the piece below. You've asked someone if they want to go out to lunch today, and this is their answer. Pick out the relevance, and rewrite it. Their new answer should be clear and feel natural to the reader (even though we know it won’t be). Feel free to continue the conversation past their answer, if you wish.

Word limit: 1200
Please use the subject line
    SUB: Exercise #219/yourname

(approx 535 words)
Well, I don’t know. Yesterday afternoon Aunt Maggie dropped in; you know how I hate drop-ins, but when did Maggie ever listen? She dropped in and oh, but that was after Clyde. You remember Clyde? Sylvia used to date him, you know. They were such a beautiful couple! They’d have made wonderful babies together; too bad she was such a well, you know that, too. Anyway, Clyde called and wanted to drop off a movie he’d just watched. You know he has that whatdoyoucallit ... that movie thing where they get them in the mail. Yes, that. No late charges! Can you believe it? Anyway, he called and I said sure, the movie sounded good. So he dropped it off and he’d just left - why, I was still standing in the driveway waving goodbye - and here comes Maggie. Perhaps if I hadn’t been outside she wouldn’t have stopped, but who can tell with Maggie? So up she screeches in that big purple car of hers - who’d choose purple as a car color? - and pops out of the driver’s seat like she had springs. She was crowing and waving her hand around. Do you believe it? Wayne proposed! You know, ever since Uncle Chad died, Maggie’s been lonely. So they’re getting married sometime in October. Who’d choose October for a wedding, I ask you? Well, after she settled down, I showed her Clyde’s movie and she was interested too, so we ordered pizza in and watched it. Clyde’s right, it’s a good one. You should see if you can rent it. I don’t remember the title . . . The . . . no, I don’t remember. I’ll check and let you know. It’s worth watching, maybe even twice. So, Maggie stayed after the movie for a glass of wine and before you know it it was really late. She went home and I crawled into bed, but then the phone rang. Now who could be calling me this late, I wondered. I got up to answer it, but do you know no one was there. The phone connection was open, but I couldn’t tell if there was anyone on the other end. Hello, I said. Then Hello, who is it? But no one answered. It was so creepy. I tried to ignore it and got back in bed, but the phone rang again. Again I answered it and no one was there. You know how you can be easily spooked when you’re alone? Suddenly - I tell you true - I was so terrified the little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I really need to make sure my hairdresser colors those, too, when she does my hair. Anyway, I was so scared I couldn’t sleep. I turned on all the lights in the house, yes, all of them. The power bill be damned! I think I finally fell asleep around four. Well, when the alarm went off I just couldn’t drag myself up so I ended up being two hours late today. And you know, we’re in the busy time of year so I’m way behind on just about everything. How about if we do lunch tomorrow?

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