Playing with Words

There are many ways to say the same thing, and this is true in books as well as life.  For a fun exercise, I decided to play with a typical piece of everyday dialog.  This is between a man and a woman, and the results are amusing.

Here is the basic dialog:


       “Hi, how are you doing?”

       “Good, and you?”

       “Fine, thanks for asking.”

First variation: minimize the dialog.  Here is the same conversation in one sentence:

     Tom and Mary shared a casual greeting as their paths crossed in the front lobby.

Second variation: add physical descriptors.  Keeping the context casual, here it is with more info.

     “Hello,” Tom said as he smiled slightly.

     Mary nodded in return as she replied, “Hi, how are you doing?”

     The two drew near to each other as their paths crossed.  Answering quickly, Tom said, “Good, and you?”

     As they continued on their separate ways, Mary’s casual response of “Fine, thanks for asking” was lost in the crowd.

Third variation: add context.  This time, the action and inflection change.

     “Hello,” Tom said silkily as he stepped into the space behind Mary’s shoulder.

     Turning her face toward his, Mary reached for his hand.  “Hi,” she replied warmly.  “How are you doing?”

     “Good,” he whispered into her ear.  She grinned as he asked, voice full of innuendo, “And you?”

      “Fine,” she said with a smile as she turned her whole body into his embrace.  “Thanks for asking.”

Fourth variation: change inflection.  Here we have a very different inflection, and different context.

     “Hello?” he said, scorn filling his voice.

     Mary stood in the door.  “Hi,” she replied, anger lacing the word.  “How are you doing?”

     Tom glared at her and threw his response in her face with a smirk.  “Good.  And you?”

    “Fine, thanks for asking,” she answered, sarcasm dripping from every word.

Final variation: vary the words.  This conversation says the same thing, but not in the same words.

    “Greetings,” Tom said lightly to the woman at the table as he sat.

     “Howdy,” she replied with a smile, continuing to eat her lunch.  “How’s life?”

     “Not too shabby.  How about yourself?” was the response, as Tom opened a bag of chips.

    Mary grinned at her friend.  “Hanging in there, thanks!”   

Thanks for reading, that was fun!


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jannatwrites
    Jul 30, 2010 @ 22:27:55

    I liked the different change ups on the greetings. Amazing how a few change ups affect a dialog; the exercise is like yoga stretches for writers.


  2. Jack
    Aug 03, 2010 @ 23:33:58

    We need to discuss this later… I’m not sure how to say “Hello?” as a question in a scornful manner, but it seems like something I should know how to do. 🙂


  3. Trackback: A Short One | Butterflies and Dragons

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