Nano Tip #1: Dialog Spine


Welcome to Nano Tips, a month-long festival of writing tips from me and Justine. We’ll be posting daily, me on the odd-numbered days of November, and Justine on the even-numbered days. This is, of course, all in celebration of NaNoWriMo. (And I think you know what that is.)

So here’s my first tip: The Dialog Spine.

Many writers use the so-called “dialog spine” as a way of mapping out a scene. As a sort of “zero draft,” they write just dialog, with no setting, action, or even attribution. It’s a quick once-over of conflict and resolution in a scene, without any tricky bits to slow you down.

This, of course, assumes that you find dialog easy. For some people, writing the action/description/whatever first might make more sense. In any case, you don’t have to make your dialog (or whatever) perfect. It’s just a way of mapping out the main beats in a scene.

But there’s another trick that I use the dialog spine for: blowing out the cobwebs. And by cobwebs, I mean “writer’s block,” “general ennui,” or “an idea that just needs to be written down, but I don’t have time.”

For example, over the last three days I’ve had a small but persistent short story idea. Of course, I’m on tour and just about to start doing revisions on Behemoth, book two of Leviathan. I don’t have time to write a short story, but I want to get this idea down. Once I write the dialog spine, maybe I’ll realize that there’s not that much to it. Or at least it’ll be on paper and out of my busy, busy brain.

And occasionally, a dialog-only short story is a lovely thing on its own. This falls less into the “novel writing advice” category and more into “a weird writing exercise.” But it’s all useful. Quite often in the middle of a novel, it’s good therapy to write a simple short story.

So here are my personal rules to writing a Dialog Spine Story:

1) Only dialog. That’s it. Zero exceptions.
2) Only two characters speak. Other characters and their dialog may be implied, but their words do not appear on paper.
3) One character’s dialog uses quotation marks, the other doesn’t. (This saves fiddling with attribution, or spending a lot of time creating verbal ticks to tell the characters apart. Remember, the point of this is to be quick and dirty. Not astonishingly artful.)

So what do these stories look like? I thought you’d never ask.

Here’s one I did just yesterday, for Halloween:

Served Cold
By Scott Westerfeld
October 31, 2009

Mind if I sit down?

“Oh, my goodness.”

Sorry to surprise you.

“But you . . . ”

I know. You didn’t expect to see anyone in town today. Least of all me.

“No, I didn’t. But of course it’s wonderful to see you. Please.”

For heaven’s sake, don’t get up! Does that arm hurt much?

“They say it’ll be fine. It throbs in a bit, but I’m full of codeine. Can I get you anything . . . ? Ah. That’s probably a stupid question.”

No, it’s not. Coffee would be wonderful.

“Really? You’re not just making fun of me?”

I would never make fun of you. Anyway, I always liked the smell of coffee better than the taste.

“Yes, I remember that . . . Excuse me, waiter, but could I have a coffee, please?”

Tell him black.

“Black, please.”

You’re very kind.

“Well, it’s the least I can do.”

Don’t be silly. It wasn’t your fault, you know. Just one of those things.

“Really? I mean, that’s what the police said. It was the ice.”

And they were perfectly right. It isn’t safe on those small roads out of town. Goodness, is that gin I smell?

“Yes. A bit early, I suppose.”

But it’s been a long week, as you always say. And look, you’ve hardly touched your salmon. It looks quite cold.

“The salmon is served cold here. But yes, it’s slow, eating with one hand.”

Poor baby. I wish I could hold a knife. Ah, here’s my coffee. Do you mind pushing it across, please?

“Of course.”

Yes, that’s a lovely smell. It’s the little things, you know. Even now.

“I’ve always thought so. Not that I would know anything about . . . ”

No, you’ve no idea. There must be lots of questions you want to ask.

“Of course.”

Well, don’t be tongue tied.

“I suppose . . . the main thing is, is it good? Or is it horrible?”

Hmm. It’s melancholy, more than anything. Like not being invited to a party, and all your friends are there. Speaking of which, you were invited to the funeral, weren’t you?

“Of course.”

And it’s today.

“Yes. It’s just starting now, I suppose.”

Then why aren’t you there?

“Well . . . I could ask you the same thing, you know.”

Ha! I suppose you could. And I was going to go. But you know what they say. It’s not for me; it’s for them.

“Well, maybe I’m not one of them.”

Don’t be philosophical, darling. You are one of them. You’re only here in town because you’re afraid.

“Well . . . not afraid, exactly.”

Yes, exactly afraid. Afraid that everyone will stare. With that arm still in a sling, who could help staring? And they’d ask if it hurts, like I just did. Really, how awkward.

“I’m so sorry.”

Don’t be silly. I told you, it wasn’t your fault. It was a patch of ice.

“Are you sure?”

About the ice? Yes. I took a good long look at it again this morning. It was back again, after melting in the sun yesterday! The roads are quite unsafe. Someone should do something.

“But there’s nothing I could have done, right?”

Well . . . perhaps there was one little thing.


If I’d been wearing my seatbelt, I’d be sitting here properly, wouldn’t I? Having cold salmon with you.

“You hate salmon, and you never bothered with seatbelts.”

I would have put mine on, if you’d asked me. I’d have done that for you.



“But it’s not as though . . . you’re eighteen, after all.”

Ah. You’ve been practicing that line, haven’t you?

“Don’t be crass.”

Sorry. But I was wondering if my parents had asked yet. About why we were out so late.

“No. They haven’t said anything.”

That means you’re in trouble, of course.

“Well, they’re still quite overwhelmed.”

No—you’re in trouble. Just look at you, sitting here all alone, pushing your lunch around with one hand. In trouble and drinking gin on top of your codeine.

“And missing you.”

And missing my funeral, you mean. The nerve of you. They’ll only talk more because you’re not there. It’s an admission of shame.

“I’m not ashamed.”

You were wearing a seatbelt.

“I . . . yes, I always do.”

And I’d have worn one if you’d asked. I did a lot of things for you.

“I know.”

Good. Then you’ll do something for me? One last thing?

“Of course.”

Go to my funeral.

“But . . . now?”

Yes, now. I know it’s already started, but funerals are always endless. Leave right away, and you’ll catch the main event. I want you to be there.

“I . . . I suppose I could still make it. Are you coming . . . with me?”

No, I’ll go ahead. But I’ll be beside you all the way, in spirit. Look, here’s the waiter.

“Check, please? Listen, I’m not quite sure your parents want me there.”

Of course they do. You’re their best friend! And I want you there, so steel yourself, darling. Here, finish your gin, that’s right. Look, he’s got your check already. Pay with cash, it’s quicker.

“All right. Don’t rush me.”

You’ll have to drive fast, won’t you?

“It’s rather tricky, with one hand. Do you really want this so much?”

More than anything. Please be there to watch them lower me. Don’t let me go down there alone.

“Of course. I promise I’ll be there. I’m so sorry.”

Don’t be silly. It was just the ice. Just go.
. . .
Drive safely.

Mwa-hah-hah! Like I said, it’s a quick-and-dirty Halloween story.

Anyway, feel free to discuss what you think is going on in the comments. And behold the power of dialog!

On my next Nano Tip day, November 3, I’ll discuss this story in more detail.

And here’s Justine’s post with Nano Tip #2!

Sort of Update:
Almost forgot the obligatory click here for Leviathan tour details. And here to buy Leviathan.

100 thoughts on “Nano Tip #1: Dialog Spine

  1. This is very helpful. I am currenty writing a sci-fi novel and I am sure to get stuck somewhere along the way. I can’t wait to hear more of your advice!

    Btw, this may be a little dumb to ask. But how do those nickname add-ons work? I loved the way it worked in the Uglies series (rereading currently) and I wanted to have my own. Thanks!

    One the short story above I think the ghost is a girl and the live one is a guy. And she certainly wants him dead. 🙂

  2. Oh, something that I wanted to say about writing. If you are just starting out, it might be a good idea to carry around paper and pencils…or I suppose a pen and your arm. Ideas often come in the most random moments and it is totally bogus when you can’t remember what the idea was later.
    Another thing, just WRITE! Don’t worry about making it pretty (no pun intended 🙂 ) So yeah, just wanted to throw that out there. I hope that you agree with me Mr. Scott. 🙂

  3. Wow that was some story! I suspect that it’s a boy and a girl thats maybe going out and the girl was driving, sliped on some ice, killed the guy, and now feels really bad about what she has done. I know one is 18 and the other is probley 18 too. They could be in college together and thats where they met. I don’t think that the guy is really dead, I think he just faked his own death, but then theres some problems with that theroy so I’m not sure. But great little stroy!!! 😀 😀 😀

  4. I agree with Jessica-la, except I think the ghost is the girl. The way he/she talks with words like “darling” seems to indicate they’re a girl. But idk. As for race & social class and such, it’s near impossible to tell…
    That’s a neat-o idea, Scott-sama. I’ll try that for the story I wanna write soon.

  5. Kim: I was thinking the same thing, because the whole ‘Drive Safely’ buisiness seems sort of ironic. I like the story though, the dialog spine is a good idea too.
    : D

  6. El – all the way from comment 14 – I think that quote, “Don’t let me go down there alone” was referring to going down the road to the funeral home, not down to Hell or anything! But I guess it’s all interpretation!

  7. Also: I imagined they were both guys and that the ‘live one’ was the parents friend. Seemed obvious to me…

  8. can’t help but get the feeling that our dead ‘boy’ would really like some revenge on the older woman.
    wish i could hold a knife???
    I think he’s pissed he’s dead and blames her although they might have loved one another once
    he misses her and as some of the comments listed before – doesn’t want to be alone

  9. I really liked it and the one technique that stood out most for me was the use of the quotation marks. It’s like a sneaky way of emphasizing the idea of reality and the one with quotations is alive while the other without quotations is not really there (ghost, repressed emotion that is being turned into this being) really good and made me want to know what is to happen next mainly because I felt that the “girl” was going to die next because the ghost stated that the ice spot was there again and she replied about her arm. Also its interesting how we analyze this and get that the person who died was a male could this be because we feel that males are more reckless than females? (stereotypes?)

  10. I’m thinking there are two lovers, one dead, one alive. The live one is sitting in a restaurant when they are visited by the spirit of the dead lover. The dead lover was killed while they were driving, because they weren’t wearing a seat belt. At the end, I got the prickly feeling that the dead lover wanted the live one to drive fast, along the back roads, and – hopefully – crash and die, so they could be together. Hmm. 😀

  11. REVENGE! “A dish best served cold”!!

    Oh my gosh! Revenge is a dish best served cold! I’ve heard that saying! (That’s what Scott was thinking, right? It be sort of funny if the title’s significance was just over the fact that they salmon were cold.) So the ghost wants the other person to die, too, like someone on here said about the person being on codein, partially drunk, and only having one arm to drive when it’s probably still icey out because funerals don’t happen long after a person dies.

    Which means that, if they want them dead too, the ghost obviously blames the human for thier death, despite what they might say. The driver was probably drunk, which is why they sounded kind of unsure whether the accident was really caused by the ice, and that would also explain the ghost asking about their parents wondering what they were doing out so late. Plus, drunk driving would make sense as a plot to a story from an author who usually writes for young adults.

    I too think it’s two significant others, the ghost male and the person female. Something about the way they speak, it’s just how I pictured it. I don’t know a lot of girls who call their boyfriend’s “darling.” Possibly it could be two friends who are bother female. Either way, male or female, the ghost seems to be the snarky type by how they use the word, and of course the fact (or theory) that they’re setting the other person up to die.

    Any thoughts, people?

  12. Scottla’s right, it’s interesting how people interpret this. A lot of it has to do with what they’re exposed to, I guess. Like I sort of felt like it might be…well, all the stuff I said because I just finished picking to death the end of To Kill a Mockingbird in English and I guess I’m just getting my detective on again & expecting subtle things to have big significance.

    I also felt that it might be two close friends who were girls because it reminds me a bit of the relationship in the book Winter Girls, how the ghost and the human interacted and thier motives.

  13. I got pointed this way by Nephele Tempest’s blog and couldn’t help myself, since I pretty much have opposite assumptions about the story. 🙂

    Haley (comment 56), I think “down there” meant the grave. 🙂

    At the start, I immediately pictured both characters male, and the “dead” one a vampire, though that eventually shifted to ghost when I got more details. I changed the dead one to female, too, and the live one an older male, for pretty much the exact same reasons most people chose the opposite. It would gall me because it’s all stereotype-based, and yet, the vast majority here didn’t see the same things.

    Like, I haven’t heard a male call a female “darling” in the inferred tone since Hart to Hart. 🙂 (Inferred because it’s how I read the tone, which might not be how it was intended.)

    The exchange about Dead being 18, plus Dead’s parents asking why they were out so late, plus Live being the parents’ best friend, all bring to mind older man/younger woman scenario, kind of illicit. Very cliché, but that’s because it’s so common. Far, far more common than older woman, young boy.

    I also pictured a higher-end restaurant, not a diner, because while a diner might serve salmon, the way he said this place serves it cold sounds a little more high-brow. But I would agree with suburban area, not urban, because of the “in town” reference.

    And hey, I just realized since this blog is in Australia, you might have already posted your Tuesday post with the answers! LOL I shall shut up and go check. 🙂

  14. This story is almost better as just a spine, with each revelation coming as a surprise and much left to the imagination. I don’t think I would have gotten the shivers as much with thick description.

    MY own interpretation: The dead one struck me as a girl right away, young and snarky even before the “eighteen” line. At first I thought the live one was her boyfriend, around the same age, but the “parents’ best friend” put me in mind of the illicit affair, as others said. The “darling” and “oh my goodness” seem to fit if the ghost is slightly sarcastic and the human older, maybe forties? That seems to fit this dialogue set better than the two the same age:
    “But it’s not as though . . . you’re eighteen, after all.” – Meaning the man is older.
    Ah. You’ve been practicing that line, haven’t you? – Possible defense against coming accusations?
    “Don’t be crass.” – Words of an older person, not a teenager.
    Sorry. But I was wondering if my parents had asked yet. About why we were out so late. – Her parents would ask him why he was driving with her late at night, since he’s THEIR friend.
    “No. They haven’t said anything.”
    That means you’re in trouble, of course. – Because now the affair is in the open.

    And, of course, “And I’d have worn one if you’d asked. I did a lot of things for you” simply SCREAMS to me that she liked him much more than he liked her. Which is precisely why he’s not at her funeral–he really doesn’t miss her that much, being much more concerned with his own embarrassment than, well, seeing her off.

    But she’s not going to stand for THAT. Hooray for strong female characters!

  15. Haley Rae, I think El meant what I was also thinking, which is a twisted double meaning to the phrase “don’t let me go down there alone,” as in:
    1. don’t let me have to be alone while they lower my body into the grave because you should be standing at my graveside, (The open meaning) and
    2. don’t let me be buried alone, as in — you should die, too. (The sinister underlying meaning)

  16. By the way, I also felt a bit of the age difference when I read it, but I wasn’t 100% sure how I felt about that…

    I have been thinking, and though when I read it the girl was the living and the boy was the dead, I can understand how the opposite could be the case.

    Now, also, I understand even more of the nuances… great symbolism.

    (I could see how they both could be girls, though that’s not how I read it, but not both boys…
    It actually makes a lot of sense with a jealous, back-stabbing, reputation wary (okay, maybe that’s a little too overboard, but…) girl-girl “friend” relationship if you think about it… I should re-read it with that in mind…)

  17. I dissagree with everyone . . i think that the girl is the one that is dead and the boy was the one driving. . . This is really facinating scott-la i love it

  18. Oh my God. It was so creepy reading it the second time. You could see hints of the thought person being dead from the very beginning! The way the living person is all surprised, and the dead one keeps cutting her/him off, and then the fact that the living person seems to feel that it’s ridiculous to ask the dead one if he/she wanted anything. And the hints continue. I didn’t get that the dead one was dead until pretty far down the first time, but it was scary to catch the early hints the second time reading it. And the ending was really creepy.

    The way I interpreted it was that the dead one was eighteen, male, while the living one was a woman the boy’s parent’s age. I also suspect pretty strongly that they had a romantic affair, that only came into the open when the boy was killed, because of the other parents talking about her, especially if she didn’t show up, and that she was sitting their with her gin that early feeling sorry for herself. I’m not quite sure what defined the genders for me, but I guess it was mostly intuitive. I agree with most of Hayley Rae’s first comment referring to their genders though. I also got the impression that the woman was driving. She was the older, more responsible one with the seat-belt on and obviously felt very guilt of the boy’s death, thinking it was her fault. The boy being more younger and more reckless (wasn’t wearing a seat-belt for one) probably pushed the woman to drive faster than usual ‘causing the accident on ice. To exactly WHY the boy wanted to kill the woman I’m not entirely sure, but my best guess must be vengeance. Definitely the more chilly option as opposed to the romantic “can’t live (or die in this case) without you”, but it seems more likely to me.

    I’m sorry if I’m being repetitive here, didn’t have time to read through all the comments. :/ But this is my view on the story.

    Btw, loved the writing style! I’ve got to try that out some time. I’ll probably fail at making any sense at all, but it seems fun. Unfortunately my strongest writing, um, can’t thing of a word?! thing .. isn’t dialogue. I’m better at description. Which isn’t helpful in this style. But I guess this is a good exercise for practicing dialogue. Thank you so much for the tip, and the brilliant story! 🙂

  19. Woah. That was a long post. Btw, I didn’t read through it, so there are bound to be a whole load of typos there! I’m apologize for that (if you’re like me and think it’s annoying to read a text full of typos). And there are loads of other good explanations here, this is just was I saw while reading the story.

  20. Yes, I certainly got the feeling that this ghost wanted their living lover to join them. Very creepy feeling at the end. This almost doesn’t need fleshing out. It’s really interesting just to look at everything that’s been inferred and go from there.
    Thanks for the neat tip!

  21. Wow. That was amazing!! I’ve had this story idea buzzing in my head for a few days (add that to the sinus headache dancing around in my skull and ya have a killer party). So, I decided to open my story with a dialog spine, and I’m likin’ the way it turned out so far!

    Anyway, I agree with some people. I think the dead person might be a girl, and has just turned 18. She seems to be the snarky, sarcastic type, out for revenge because she’s angry that the other person(who I think is male and considerably older than her) is still alive and she’s not. But I also think some of that anger stmes form fear. She’s dead, but doesn’t want to be alone on the day of her funeral, the day when she is supposed to be”put to rest”. Not very restful if you’re scared, is it?

    I do think the person who is alive is male, but maybe a little younger than some people thought. 30’s maybe?? I just don’t many women going out and drinking (on top of pain meds!!), and then driving to a funeral on icy country roads. I do agree with the people/person who said the the girl may have liked the man more then he liked her (whoa, slightly confusing!) The person who is still alive(for the moment, anyway…) just seemed *so*surprised that the dead one would have put their seatbelt on, if only the man/live person had asked. that shows the the girl/dead person really did like(or maybe even love) the person who is still alive.

    I think that the man/live person had better drive very, very carefully. Coedine, gin, icy roads, and a vengeful ghost breathing down your neck make for a very dangerous ride, especially when you’re trying to get something that has already started (like a funeral for your deceased lover…) I love the play on “Revenge is a dish best served cold” for the title. And the cold salmon? Way cool.

  22. That was awesome! I really liked it. I finished Specials today, and I almost started crying in my computer class! Very interesting, and this will help me when I write my stories. 🙂

  23. This is my first NaNo and I am up for all the tips and tricks, as I fully intend to work this first novel into something I might actually feel comfortable submitting. Looking forward to the rest of your posts throughout the month. Thanks.

  24. Late to the party on this, but thank you for the dialogue spine. I can’t believe I got through grad school without anyone mentioning it, so I’ll chalk it up to I forgot. Each of my NaNo chapters so far now has a dialogue spine file, and they’ve already been useful.

    And I love the story. I can’t hear someone say the word “darling” without hearing Shaw or Coward – even with seat belts and codeine – so I got the fundamental story you describe, with added black tie and Cole Porter soundtrack. I still can’t decide about the genders, but who cares? More fun to play with the possibilities.

  25. What motivated you to pursue a career in writing? Please reply quick cause im doing a project that is due really soon.

  26. What an awesome idea. I just found your blog through Justine’s. And being on Day 4 of NaNoWriMo, I’m sure to hit some walls. I’ll be sure to try the dialog spine WHEN (not if) I get stuck.


  27. Oh man, he wants the other person to die too on that very same ice patch!

    I really enjoyed the Dialog Spine =-).

    Btw, the fact that the person without quotation mark was a ghost was somewhat very fitting.

  28. Amazing story. I arrived to this blog for the first time today and I’m amazed. I’m so going to become a regular reader!

    The story is very interesting and it has such a tone that it made me read it completely without stopping. It was great! I had never thought of writing something like that (pure dialogue) but I might give it a try someday. Who knows if I’ll be able to make it work.

    In any case, it was amazing reading your story. Great job. 🙂

    Thanks for all the tips!

    Sincerly yours,
    Andrea (a Chilean Nano-er). 🙂

  29. That was really interesting. I enjoyed that a lot. I actually got a kind of strange relationship between the characters. I saw both characters as being female. They were lovers, one alive and one dead. The one who was alive (with the quotation marks) was the one driving, which is where all the guilt came from. The one who was alive was also an adult, as it said she was a best friend of the dead girl’s parents. The dead girl was 18 as it said in the story. Just thought I’d put that out there 🙂

  30. I definately like the dialogue only because the reader can fill in the details by themselves. Whats a good story without drama, love, death, and a little action?(;

  31. Hmmm… I think that they’re both female. Because the one with her arm in a sling (obvoiusly alive because why would it be in a sling if she were dead?) seemed a little uncertain and…… softer, I think is the word. Also I think its easier for girls and girls to be more friendly with eachother’s parents.
    I think the other girl (the ghost) is a little older, like an older sister or the mean girl up the street who loved to torment you and show off to her friends. I think the live one sort of sounds apollogetic and wishy-washy about the whole thing. The ghost seems very sarcastic and pushy and demanding.
    As for social status, I think it’s more like the high school popularity fight… not that big/improtant.
    I see the live girl in a fancy hotel returaunt like in New York (City) or something trying to run away. But now that I think about it why would an 18 year-old have that much money to run away to a five-star hotel? The funeral is being held at an old Church at a place far out of the city and that’s why she has to go fast because it’s a long drive.

    This is very interesting, but I can’t do this. I need the visual stuff before I can even begin dialouge. Dialouge to me is the details.
    I really like this, mostly because it’s like a theatre excersize. I’m a huge theatre freak, so I can see lots of interpretations of this on stage. if it didn’t have the implied actions, like sit down etc., it would be perfect. I think I’ll use this for theatre more than writing.

    Thanks a lot!

  32. I thought that the person that died was a girl and that she was in the passenger seat, and that the two were going out.

  33. okay, here’s what i think:

    1. who’s the ghost?–the dead one’s boy, live one’s a girl. or, they’re both gay males. no, i’m going with he first one. the live one was definatley female and though the phrase darling is a tad feminine, i think the ghost was male.

    2. relationship–note how the boyfriend wasn’t copmforting the woman. not overly, anyway. that gives him a kind oif bitter edge, makes the woman seem kinda needy. instead of telling her it will be all right, or that he forgives her, he is harsh and menacing. through this, i would assume that the ghost was the initiator of the relationship. also, this serves as more evidence to prove tht he is male.

    3. who was driving?–the woman was driving the car. most definatley. i can’t imagine it any other way.

    4. was she older?–maybe i’m stereotyping, but i would assume if the ghost was male, he would be inclined to drive. which, then, makes me think the woman is older. also, noe the gin, the “you are 18” and the mention of being a friend of the boy’s parents… okay, here’s how i imagine the characters:

    5. the woman: she’s i college, majoring in english or history of some sort–and living in the ghost’s town, probably pretty far from the college, but i would guess she was there ’cause of an association with the ghost’s parents ( is she renting an apartment/room from them, for a low price? ). i would imagine she normally lives out of state. on the day they crashed, they had been under the pretense of driving somewhere, but really had gone somewhere out of the way to make-out.
    Physically, i imagine her to be thin and short, looking younger than she is, with pale brown hair, cut somewhat short. on the day of the conversation, her hair would be lank and tangled, like she hadn’t bothered to wash it. Also, her eyes would be red and puffy, her gait unfocused, due to a mixture of gin and coedine.

    6. the boy: in my mind, the boy is a much edgier character. perhaps it was the use of the phrase “darling”. the term is just so undeniably possesive… also, this would support a reason the parents would want the girl and boy to hang out: so her maturity and resonsibility would rub off on him. if only they knew…

    7. the town– it has to be a small town, no question about it. that doesn’t mean its rural– just little. it appears almost everyone there is at the boy’s funeral ( which, of course, is why she “didn’t expect to see anyone in town today” ).

    Well, those r all my revelation for today… thx for the puzzle, scot-la, this was SO fun!

    Physically, i imagine her like this.

  34. what? how did the “physically, i imagine her like this” get tacked on to the end? huh. it must be some sorta mistake.

  35. OMG I’m so dumb! When they were talking about seatbelts I thought they where talking about magic belts that make it so you could see invisable people! Then I re-read it and figured out that you were talking about seatbelts! hahahahaha I think I was thinking a little to far outside the box now eh? (no im not brittish i just like saying that) K scotty now i need 2 have book recedomations. They can be your books others books or even yo mamas books! I also need to knowwhat book you’re most proud of (or series) K? I will read it! (if i havent already) and now i need your opinain on my writing skillz.(not talkin about spelling)but likes ways to improve

    “Are they still coming?” I asked in the slightest whisper.
    “I think we lost them… but we should go a little further just in case.” the stranger replied between breaths. I leaned agenst the old hard tree, feeling the rogfh bark scraping my back. Suddenly I heard slight foot steps. I stood paralized. The footsteps became louder and louder. As I turned my head I saw what looked like an inhuman hand reaching out to grab me. They’d found us. I tried to scream but nothing came out. I ducked down onto a pile of crunchy leafs. Then I heard a gasp next to me. The stranger was gone, and pulled slowly into the darkness.

  36. It’s so great reading these comments, I had such a different intrepretation of them! I didn’t think about gender, but the one who died wasn’t driving. S/he kept saying “It was icy” and the Salmon Eater felt guilty. I hadn’t even thought of the setting up for death aspect — very creepy! As for the relationship, I was pretty confident they were in the awkward not-quite-boyfriend/girlfriend stage because the dead one said several times s/he would have done things if the other had asked.

  37. I’m a bit late, but this is interesting, so this is what I got:

    The spirit is male and young: 18.
    The living person is female, and they were together, and she is much older than he is. He mentions that she is his parent’s best friend, so that makes me think she is older.
    She was driving the car when they hit the ice. Here she makes a comment about him being 18 and responsible which again makes me think she is older.

    He is setting her up to die. She is on drugs, been drinking, has one arm to drive, and he mentions the roads are deadly. Then there is the final comment about not letting him go into the ground alone.

    I am definitely going to give this exercise a try!

  38. Ok so I am reallllly late….. oh well.
    I think the spirit/gohst was a girl. It seems to me that girls are more into the feelings and would want him there. It seemed realy important to her. Guys just dont show how much they care as much and the person alive used words like “supose” and seemed hesitant.

    Don’t know if that made sense….

    I love dialog… It is so much easier for me to read than detail b/c I can get lost in detail and not really remeber what I am reading. Like in Uglies when Tally was in the forest it was fantastic detail, but when I first read it I couldn’t wait for dialog.

    PLEASE dont judge me based on how I spell!!!!

  39. hen i rested and decided I should at least try again and get at least to the top. So I did. I got all the way to the top and walked across the suspended log at the top. I was so proud of myself and would’ve done it again if I could stand up.

  40. Wow, this was soo good. Scott you are one of my favorite authors and there is so much to this dialogue spine and I would LOVE to read more of this! I hope you consider working on it more after the Leviathan series!

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