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:
Ways that dialogue diminishes your writing:
*Telling, not showing
*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