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  • Writer's pictureGale Farnsworth

The Dialogue Workshop

Updated: May 10, 2021


Please feel free to use this dialogue workshop with your writer's groups. Please do not republish.


Write it…um…how we really speak

Each participant workshops 2 pages from current work


Using the guidelines below workshop each writer’s dialogue:

What works in this selection of dialogue?

What questions do we have?

What aspects do we appreciate?


How dialogue enhances your writing:

*Captures your character’s distinctive voice, cadence, energy, syntax

*Each character’s voice is unique – pace, language, silence

*Increases conflict – escalates emotions, exhibits passivity, aggression, intelligence, arrogance…

*Moves your story forward

*Creating the mood of a scene/chapter

*Plot details – share details using dialogue instead of narration

*Establish backstory – a little at a time

*Dialogue allows reader to understand and empathize with your characters


Dialogue establishes relationships between characters:

Antagonistic?

Loving?

Obsessed?

Indifferent?

Controlling?


Ways that dialogue diminishes your writing:

*Info dumps

*Telling, not showing

*Long-winded paragraphs

*Small talk - i.e. weather, what you had for dinner last night, Hi, how are you? Doesn’t move your story forward, add tension, reveals a character’s inner thoughts or feelings

*Let go of the rules of grammar and sentence structure – no one considers these elements when speaking

**Keep it brief. People rarely speak in paragraphs or complete sentences


Keys to vibrant, believable dialogue:

*It is detail that resonates with readers; specific, sensory detail lifts words off the page and into the minds, muscles, skin and heart of the reader.

*LISTEN – to conversations

*Read your dialogue out loud

*Listen to your characters

*Break up dialogue with specific actions

*Watch the use of dialogue tags – do not use adverbs to tell reader how a character feels – i.e.: she/he said angrily, fearfully, sadly etc.

*Vary the placement of dialogue tags

*Remember the power of silence within a conversation


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