Saturday, January 16, 2010

Writing With Dialogue (Story included)

The following is a dialogue exercise that turned out pretty well. Natural dialogue is not easy and telling a story through dialogue is even harder. So occasionally, I'll write a story with only the speaking parts.

The key is to make each character an individual through word usage, line length, and pauses. Pretend you're watching a movie with a blindfold on, how do you know who's speaking?

Inflection, pauses, and word choice.

You can transfer that to your writing. Read your voices out-loud. How does that character speak? Would they say bull or bosh? Would they just roll their eyes?

I attached my little writing exercise below. I hope you get a laugh at the dialogue.

You should try it. It's Misery loves company. But if you can master it, you're dialogue will sing on the page. Plus, if you can tell back-story through your dialogue in a seamless fashion, you'll save yourself hours of flashbacks.

Plus, good dialogue will make a reader spend their cash to read your work and we all could use some cash, right?


TITLE: Jumping The Shark (Comedy)

"Okay Bill, one more time. You circle around to the left and cross in front of him. Larry will do the outer circle and I'll cross on the right."

"My left or yours?"

"My left, it's always my left. Geez, you'd think we'd never done this before."

"Larry, Larry stop chasing your tail-fin and listen. I don't want a repeat of what happened last time."

"Ugh, what happened?"

"Remember Larry, you bit the leg off that scuba diver?"

"That was so not my fault. He practically shoved his foot down my throat. I lost three teeth and he tasted like rotten seaweed."

"Yeah, we'll we had to hide from the local fishermen for most of the summer and nothing is more boring than the deep ocean in summer. Bill, Bill get away from that darn cruise boat propeller. You want to lose your other eye? "

"I know I can catch it. You just have to figure out the spin"

"Oh for the love of tuna, Bill, you run head first into another propeller and so help me I'll help the other sharks eat you. Now guys, listen up! Same rules as the last time. No biting, no touching the board. First one to get him off the board gets five points. If he pees his wetsuit, you get a bonus five. If you touch the board or the windsurfer, you get nothing and you eat last for the rest of the week. Got it, Bill?"

"Sure, I'm not stupid."



"Larry, why didn't your mother eat her young? Get ready, here he comes. Bill go left."

"Whose left?"

"Oh for the love of tuna..."


  1. I once decided to do an exercise in dialog. Ended up with a novel written solely of it on amazon. Well, hopefully I'm better at it than before. (shrug)

    love your story btw... wiggy's story on the lit mag is all dialog too.


  2. Snappy dialogue! Are these the sharks out of Finding Nemo? How did you ever get them to star in your story? Probably your penchant for, ahem, biting humor.


  3. *Pretend you're watching a movie with a blindfold on, how do you know who's speaking?*

    Great advice!!

    This is just a quick note to let you know I left you an award at my blog:

    from the desk of a writer


    Corra :)

  4. Have you ever thought about coming a writing coach? You have some really good tips.

    The dialogue worked really well. There was not one sign of the pain you suffered in writing. It flowed and felt very realistic. Leaving me wanting to know more about what was going on and had been going on between the group of friends.