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03/15/2006 - A QUICK LESSON IN DIALOGUE
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I've received several e-mails from people asking me if I can provide some tips or exercises on writing dialogue. Basically, I don't believe that writing good/compelling/great dialogue can be taught. What I do believe is that writing believable dialogue can be learned. What follows is a simple example:

Take two college roommates, two guys, 20 years old. Let's call them Rick and Nate. Rick is a womanizer. Nate is a shy nerd. It's Friday night. They are going to a party. All Rick wants to do is meet a girl, have a one night stand and never see her again. All Nate wants to do is meet a girl that he can date and possibly begin a serious relationship with that will lead to marriage.

When Rick gets to the party he will act and talk in a certain way: in the style of the cool, smooth womanizer who can read women and knows all the right things to say.

When Nate gets to the party he will act and talk in a certain way: in the style of the shy nerd filled with self-doubt, insecurity and inexperience.

You can pretty much write what each guy will say and describe how he behaves. As to whether or not your dialogue sings or jumps off the page or is funny or witty, I can't teach you that. That's something that will either come naturally to you or not.

But you won't know until you try. So as an exercise, write a 5 page scene in which Rick interacts with a girl at the party and then one in which Nate interacts with a girl.

One final thought: there's no guarantee that Rick will walk out of the party with a girl nor is there a guarantee that Nate won't.










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