According to Elizabeth Bowen, dialogue is the most vigorous interaction that characters can have with each other in fiction—short of fighting, murder, and love-making. “Speech is what the characters do to each other,” she wrote. In this workshop, we will look at the many ways that dialogue operates. Over the course of four weeks, we will examine how speech can advance plot, create/sustain/alleviate dramatic tension, demonstrate power dynamics, and reveal things about our characters, their motivations, and the places they come from. The ultimate goal is to learn how to write scenes that will convey meaning in a way that sounds like real life.
Each week, you will be asked to respond to a prompt that explores a certain aspect of written dialogue. We will read and discuss each other’s short passages, as well as short fiction by published authors. By the end of the four weeks, you should have a more solid understanding of the many ways that dialogue can be deployed and shaped in your own works of fiction.