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‘Talk it Up’: Writing dynamic dialogue


By Caroline Reid

talkingDialogue and action are two great tools writers use to push a story forward, create tension and reveal character. In the ‘Talk it Up’ workshop as part of the Creative Writing Boot Camp for Teens you’ll be writing your own dialogue and in doing so you’ll see how you can begin to really open up a story, add to the dramatic action, reveal all kind of things about character and the world of the story, and maybe even create a few laughs. But before I see you at next week’s Boot Camp here’s an exercise to get you listening and having fun with dialogue.

Writing Exercise

A good starting point for writing effective dialogue is to eavesdrop. Listening to real speech reveals a lot about people and their relationships. Buses, Maccas, parties, family dinners or one end of a phone conversation are all great places to eavesdrop. Jot down some notes, include the ums and ers, interruptions and unfinished sentences. (If you want to you can record it and transcribe later) Also take a look at body language and listen to what people are not saying, which can be just as important as what they are saying.
Once you’ve got it written down try isolating what’s interesting about the dialogue (could be the subject that’s being discussed, a funny line or anecdote, the situation or the people themselves that you find fascinating). Lose the boring bits and exaggerate the interesting bits. Use your notes as a basis for a page of fictional writing. Firstly, write it as a transcript (dialogue only). Then re-read it and re-write (keep exaggerating), this time adding attributes (he said, she said), action (gesture) and tone. Some things to consider that might enhance your writing: What is the relationship between these characters? What sort of life histories do they have? What mood are they in? Where are they? Where have they come from? What are they doing? What are they about to do?


Don’t forget to book your spot at Creative Writing Bootcamp for Teens (book for both weeks and get a discount!).

5 Comments to “‘Talk it Up’: Writing dynamic dialogue”

  1. Jennifer says:

    I’m writing a factional memoir and have a couple of questions.
    My memoir starts when the main character is cleaning out her attic. She comes across a box of old photos and as she draws one out of her family when she is 14, it triggers memories and that is how the book starts. What I would like to know is, firstly, because it is a memory or recall, does internal dialogue need to be included. I like to include it because I feel it deepens the insight of the character. What do others think?
    Secondly there is always questions about POV. In my book obviously the main character is prominent, but at times, not too much I flip to the POV’s of the people around her that have influence on how she is moulded into the person she becomes.

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