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How to Write Dramatic Dialogue

How to Write Dramatic Dialogue

Join John Harman on Saturday October 26, 1.30 – 4.30pm.

Good dialogue shows and expresses rather than tells. It makes the story fly. Of course, straightforward narrative can move the story forward and supply exposition (back-story) but dialogue is the high-octane fuel that propels the story and supplies much of its drama. it is sometimes difficult for writers to know when to employ dialogue instead of narrative (and vice versa) but appropriate and authentic dialogue lifts the story and gives it impetus, proving the premise, revealing character, progressing the plot and carrying exposition.

Course Structure

The five functions of dialogue

What makes good dialogue


Revealing character through dialogue

Exposition through dialogue

Colour and texture

Subtext. Don’t write every line ‘on the nose.’

Bad language. Be honest. If you do not want them to use it, do not create the characters.

Speech tags and alternatives to said

Attribution. How to handle it

A short session on writing dialogue for the screen. The difference between dialogue to be read as opposed to spoken. The through line development of the story; what the actor is looking for.

Exercises in writing dialogue.