So far, we have looked at setting the stage and finding the actors - now it's time to give them some lines. This session looks at the correct way to lay out dialogue in literature, as well as the differences between natural and unnatural dialogue.

Dialogue Exercise
 

 If you worked in a group during the character development session, you can work together now to develop a dialogue between your characters. If you're working by yourself, develop two or three characters to interact with each other.

 

  1. Try to come up with a scenario in which all of your characters might meet. Perhaps on a long bus journey, at a wedding, lost in a strange land or even on another planet.

  2. Write a conversation where your characters talk to one another.

  3. To begin with, just free flow. Let them say whatever they want to say - you can even record yourselves in character if it helps.

  4. Once you have a couple of pages of dialogue, go back through it together and try to polish it up so that it becomes good dialogue (see video above).

Remember, good dialogue is when the conversation:
 

  • Sounds natural

  • Is interesting

What might these characters say to one another when meeting for the first time or do they already know each other? Do they all get along or are there personality clashes? What do they choose to tell one another and what do they choose to hide?
 

You can also include some action or description if you'd like to. Think about body language. Sometimes characters say things without having to speak. For example:
 

Joanna was happy to see Brian again, but she hoped he had forgotten about her totalling his car.

"Hey, Brian!" she shouted, walking towards him.

"Oh, Joanna," he said, folding his arms with a scowl.

 

From this description, do you think he remembers that she wrecked his car?
 

It doesn't need explicitly stating because the body language implies it.
 

Next...

 

Once you are happy with the content of your dialogue, it's time to edit it.
 

Download this PDF and watch the accompanying video above. Work through your dialogue so that it conforms to the formatting rules. Here are some examples of formatted dialogue

 

Additional resource: If you'd like to learn more about writing good dialogue, this short video (17 mins) might prove helpful.

If you would like me to look over your completed exercise and give feedback, you can e-mail up to three pages of dialogue to marion.woolley@gmail.com along with proof of payment for £15.