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Dialogue Mechanics Practice 1

The following passage is a conversation between three characters, from which the

mechanics and paragraphing relating to the dialogue have been removed. How

would you arrange the sentences and punctuate them to make the conversation clear?

(Hint: Copy and paste the section into your word processing program.)

 

There was a tentative tap on the door and Annie came in. You wanted to see me, Mr. Welles? She looked, Synnamon thought, like a kid who'd been summoned to the principal's office and didn't have the slightest idea why. Have a seat, Annie. How do you like your coffee? Annie perched on the edge of the love seat next to Synnamon. Just black, thanks. He handed her a cup and saucer. It rattled a little as she took it, and she didn't even pretend to drink. Conner settled back on the couch. Mrs. Welles has found the person she feels is just right to take over her job. Yes, sir? You. The saucer tipped alarmingly. I--Me, sir? Annie cleared her throat. Sir, I know I should jump at the chance. But I'm not sure-- Exactly, Conner said. I'm not sure, either. Annie, I have a proposition for you, if Mrs. Welles will go along with it. Warning bells went off in Synnamon's head, but before she could argue, he'd gone on. He wasn't even looking at her, but directly at Annie. I'm offering you the job as head of customer relations on a trial basis for a ninety-day period. During that time, Mrs. Welles will make herself available to you for advice and consultation. Synnamon gave him a stony stare. At the end of the trial period, Conner went on, the three of us will sit down again and decide if the plan is working. If it is, we'll make the promotion permanent. And if not, Synnamon thought, it's quite apparent whose neck will be on the line. Is that agreeable to you both? Conner asked. Then let's shake hands on it. He extended a hand to Annie, and then to Synnamon. She stood up. If that's all, Conner, Annie and I have a lot of work to do. He smiled. No particular hurry. You have ninety days, Synnamon, so surely you can take a minute to finish your coffee.

Here is the same passage as it appeared in the final version:

    There was a tentative tap on the door and Annie came in. "You wanted to see me, Mr. Welles?"

    She looked, Synnamon thought, like a kid whoíd been summoned to the principalís office and didnít have the slightest idea why.

    "Have a seat, Annie. How do you like your coffee?"

    Annie perched on the edge of the love seat next to Synnamon. "Just black, thanks."

    He handed her a cup and saucer. It rattled a little as she took it, and she didnít even pretend to drink.

    Conner settled back on the couch. "Mrs. Welles has found the person she feels is just right to take over her job."

    "Yes, sir?"

    "You."

    The saucer tipped alarmingly. "I--Me, sir?" Annie cleared her throat. "Sir, I know I should jump at the chance. But Iím not sure--"

    "Exactly," Conner said. "Iím not sure, either. Annie, I have a proposition for you, if Mrs. Welles will go along with it."

    Warning bells went off in Synnamonís head, but before she could argue, heíd gone on. He wasnít even looking at her, but directly at Annie.

    "Iím offering you the job as head of customer relations on a trial basis for a ninety-day period. During that time, Mrs. Welles will make herself available to you for advice and consultation."

    Synnamon gave him a stony stare.

    "At the end of the trial period," Conner went on, "the three of us will sit down again and decide if the plan is working. If it is, weíll make the promotion permanent."

    And if not, Synnamon thought, itís quite apparent whose neck will be on the line.

    "Is that agreeable to you both?" Conner asked. "Then letís shake hands on it." He extended a hand to Annie, and then to Synnamon.

    She stood up. "If thatís all, Conner, Annie and I have a lot of work to do."

    He smiled. "No particular hurry. You have ninety days, Synnamon, so surely you can take a minute to finish your coffee."

From THE PERFECT DIVORCE, Copyright 1997 by Leigh Michaels. All rights reserved.

This exercise is copyrighted material and is offered for the individual's own use. Further distribution or sale is not permitted without permission of the copyright holder. Copyright 2013 Leigh Michaels.

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