Only Dialogue


So this week I endeavored to perform a dialogue exercise. Since I’ve been editing and working on notes for my next novel, I haven’t been doing any creative “writing”.  This exercise gave me a chance to stretch my creative muscles after some down time. It also gave me a chance to write a conversation, between two characters, expressing emotion and action through dialogue only. No descriptions of action from a narration. Tough process. I first read about this exercise from one of Brandon Sanderson’s podcast. Needless to say, I was intriqued and wanted to try my hand.

I hope anyone who reads the following piece of work will experience the same thing I did. Enjoy. I call this MYSTERIES OF MAGIC.





“Nothing. Just random thought exhaust from my head.”

“Hah. Yeah, that makes sense.”

“It doesn’t?”

“Not at all. How can your thoughts have ‘exhaust’ fumes? Unless your head is cracked and you’re mind is leaking. Which I don’t see as possible, unless your dead and then I doubt you’d be thinking of anything anymore.”

“You tell me all the time I’m ‘cracked’ and need to see a head shrinker!”


“There you go…”

“Hhh… Anyway. What random thought grew so big and got clogged within your pea-sized head that you couldn’t contain it, huh?”

“Who said I was thinking of something random? Wait! Did you imply I have a small head?!”

“Not exactly. To be more accurate, I insinuated that you’re mind lacked the processing abilities to withstand a high production of new or complex ideas. Albeit, I did state this in a most vulgar manner. Idiot.”

“Hmm… Hah! If I was a more complex man, I might hold on to your insult and later hold it against our friendship—”

“Who said we’re friends?! I certainly didn’t! Drinking companions… sure. Friends… hardly a descriptor worth the air used for the utterance.”

“I truly enjoy our love-hate relationship, Max.”

“More hate on my end, Dorn. And would you kindly tell me what’s caused your mind to crack open finally. I plan to get drunk quickly thereafter and forget our conversation.”

“Would you like me to buy your second drink then, in preparation for later events?”

“Please, do me the service. Talk while you do.”

“Cragmire! Over here! Pour my good-friend Max another bit of brew, if my tab can handle the price… wait! It can’t?! And here I thought I was simply joking. Well then, gladly pour another mug for Max and place the price on Max’s tab. Oh! And while you’re at your laborious business also pour me a double. Yes on Max’s tab too, of course. My tab apparently has been hijacked by some identity thief. A shapeshifter, no doubt, and one good enough to have fooled you, Cragmire.”

“Dear me… as you were saying, Dorn…”

“Don’t mind if I do. As I was about to explain… I was simply considering your magic.”

“What about it, specifically?”

“How you perform such miracles. Turning people into toads. Calling down lightning to smite dastardly shapeshifters and blind barmen! Turning led to gold, the most useful of your little tricks. All that cool sorcerer, wizard-mojo… ya know?”

“Really, the process is easy.”

“I assumed so! All you do is wave your hand and crazy stuff happens. Thank you, Cragmire. And thank you for the drink, Max.”

“You’re not welcome. Cragmire. And magic is more than waving a hand. I attended professional classes at Mag-U. I endured years of my nose buried in tome after tome, and calluses on my fingers from wand waving. Many toads were blasted to pieces. Hundred-year-old beards were scorched. A couple of goblets still had rat tails. Damn rats… they’re tricking to transmute, buggers never hold still!”

“So, Max, if I were to wave my hands… that would not be enough then, huh?”

“Try it. See for yourself, Dorn.”

“I shall. Put your mug down, then. Watch with baited breath… here I go! I will turn your brew there to water…”

“Are you finished yet?”

“Just a second… Cragmire, stop your sniggering and quit looking at me with that lazy eye of yours. I might just have to knock it straight for you if you persist in your cursed distractions! Here I go again…”

“Finished yet?”

“Near to, another wave or two… Cragmire, stop laughing!”

“Ignore him, Dorn. Done?”

“It’s still the color of urine, Max. Try it though, who knows.”

“Urine or dirty water. Either way, I’m not trying it.”

“I’ll settle for dirty water and a round of applause… which our dear fellow Cragmire shouldn’t mind. Applause is free, even in this less-than-fine establishment. Cuttroats and thieves are everywhere. They’re my brethren but they’re still shifty people. Uncle Tom over there has the stickiest of fingers of our lot… C’mon! Take a swig, Max, prove me wrong?”

“Fine! Smells like Cragmire’s dark brown… tastes like it too.”

“You’re right then, Max, there’s more to magic than waving your hands.”

“Told you.”

“So how do you perform magic?”


“I am not satisfied with the answer, Max.”

“Dorn, what do you want to hear? Magic is a knack, some people are simply wizards. End of explanation.”

“Why wave the hands?”

“Uh… looks cool.”

“‘Looks cool’? You guys wave your hands around to ‘look cool’?”

“Pretty much.”

That sounds stupid.”

“Glaring at a person before you levitate a boulder and drop it on their head is less amazing and spectacular. Waving the hands adds flare and increases the dramatics.”

“You wizards are all great and powerful manipulators of the universe AND you’re entertainers?”

“Only those of us with style.”

“Still doesn’t explain how you do magic.”

“I told you, Dorn. Wizards can achieve the miracles known as ‘magic’ because they’re wizards. It’s something we’re born with. Simple and done.”

“But you have to go to school too, right? Seems like some omnipotent door-to-door salesman sold your family a fancy widget with a novel-sized instruction manual when all you needed to do was press the button marked ‘ON’ to make the magic go-Go-GO!”

“How many shots have you put on my tab this eve, Dorn?! You sound ridiculous and off your rocker!”

“So says the wizard who went to school for forty years, accumulated a king’s ransom in debt, and lost his brown hairs to gray, only to find out later he just needed to press the on-button.”

“If everyone was like you, Dorn, there would be no wonder in this kingdom.”

“You misunderstand me, Max! Wonder means good coin, and I’m all about the coin. Without a wizard’s ‘wonder’, the king and queen and anyone else wealthy enough to afford your high-priced services, would be less inclined to pay good coin for your serves. So go about solving the problems of the kingdom, if it fastens pockets ripe as melon berries for the picking!”

“Who said wizards solve every problem? Why, if we solved every problem with a wave of the hand—”

“I thought you told me you didn’t need to wave your hands, Max?”

“Uhh… I was not being literal, Dorn! I was only trying to say that if everything were made to be so simple, you would take the plot out of the adventure. How exciting would it be if every damsel was puff-ed out of danger? Or if armies were slain with a mere word?”

“Adventurers, heroes, and barbarians would be placed out of business, I think. And Cragmire would be more moody than when a shapeshifter comes into town and charges up his best customer’s tab. Chaos, Max. The kingdom would be renamed Boredom.”

“I agree with you.”

“So you could puff a princess out from a dragon’s lair, but don’t for the sake of true excitement and heightened drama?”

“True. I find it more satisfying to call forth from the air a torrent of wind and water to douse the dragon’s throat, neutralizing his fiery breath. The hero—which is typically not you, Dorn, because you’re off stealing the dragon’s treasure horde—can then wrestle with and hack and slash the scaly fiend. The princess is plucked from danger and all is unicorns and rewards.”

“Better ending.”

“A thrilling ending.”

“But you could have taken care of the dragon on your own, Max, with a snap of the fingers?”

“Like I said, I don’t need to—”

“Yes, yes… you don’t need to snap or wave anything to do the hocus pocus. But…”

“Yes, I could have called into being a sickly microbe to infect the dragon with, instantly making him ill and in need of immediate bed rest.”

“How would you do that? Make the virus appear?”


“Such is the magical answer, Max. But how would you create the virus? How would you cause water to materialize from thin air without a river or stream or ocean near by? HOW, dear friend?”

“Who said there wasn’t a source of water near by?”

“Is there?”

“Maybe. Probably not. Doesn’t matter. I don’t need water to create water.”

“Because you have magic, control over the elements and forces of nature?”

“As long as the story is not told from my point of view, the explanation for my powers’ machinations doesn’t matter; the magic is best left as a mystery and the heroism placed center stage. And as long as my magic is not the solution at the conclusion, the richness of the adventure is fulfilling.”

“Sounds like thin logic to me, Max.”

“Don’t exert your mental capacity, Dorn. We wouldn’t want any more cracks to perforate your hard head.”

“If your magic is used as a tool to the solution of me getting past the dragon and to the gold coinage in the dragon’s den. Could an explanation be warranted then?”

“A most! If the magic is reduced to being a tool, the uniqueness most be highlighted and ingenuity applied to free ourselves from the problem becomes the thrill. Chances are there will be limits to the magic’s use in those situations, to keep our minds on our toes.”

“Maybe I should get me and you into one of these adventures requiring magical tools to get our rears out of the fire. Then you’ll explain the mysterious to me, hmm?”

“Heck no, Dorn. Likely you’d steal the secrets and sell our companions to whatever evil overlord has reared the dragon as a pet. You’d get a fat purse and only end up getting drunk and handing over the loot to Cragmire here! Oh, and the princess would likely be a dragon snack by story’s end too.”

“I do need to drink, Max. And that end, my dear friend, is what we call the twist.”

“No, Dorn, I am the one who needs another drink. Cragmire?”

“As-do-I, Max.”


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