My short, 900-word flash piece “Singles Line” will be appearing on Flashes in the Dark. It goes live mid-December, and I hope I made it in time to participate in the “Worst of Love” competition, which was what I wrote it for. Life (and NaNo) got in the way most of the month, so it was cutting very close to the deadline when I submitted it.
David Mitchell’s first novel, the wonderfully odd Ghostwritten, has a chapter towards the end of the book that consists entirely in dialogue. It was a difficult book for me to read, and I put it down and picked it back up several times over the course of a few months, but once I got to that chapter I was hooked. It deals with a late-night radio shock-jock and a listener who calls in on the same night every year for a series of years, never giving away their identity but revealing much about the nature of the world.
When I read the chapter, I was struck by Mitchell’s technique. Up until that point, I don’t believe I’d read anything that was comprised entirely of dialogue before, and I was amazed at the amount of story that could be told just through the speech of a few people. I was determined to try it myself.
The first story I wrote employing this technique was The Anything Goes Call-In Show, which is still up over on Ficly, a neat little open source flash-writing site that I’ve mentioned on the blog before. One of the hardest things about using this technique is that you have to create a scenario in which it is plausible for the characters to only be talking, without any descriptors, and still get enough information across. For a horror writer, the easiest way is to put them on the phone or other mass-communication technology, and then throw in a nasty twist along the way.
I’m not going to talk about “Singles Line” much yet, because it’s available on the site yet, but suffice it to say that I loved writing it and look forward to seeing the reactions of readers. I hope they find it just as interesting and creepy as I did while writing it.