17.35: Nuances of Dialog

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Maurice Broaddus, and Howard Tayler

We wrap up our eight-episode dialog master class with a discussion of nuance, which is difficult to describe in a blurb because it’s… well, nuanced. That may sound a bit recursive, but our discussion dives deep into the meta.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

Create a word list for each of your characters – words only they will use, and words they share.

Unfadeable, by Maurice Broaddus

17.34: Developing Subtext

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Maurice Broaddus, and Howard Tayler

We begin this episode with a quick exploration of the terminology, and what we mean when we say “text,” “context,” and “subtext.” Subtext exists between text and context. It’s the information which isn’t actually in the text, but which we are able to divine based on the context. And in this episode we talk about how to use context and text to provide subtext to the reader.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

Grab a scene with dialog. Delete every third line of dialog, and then go back and try to use non-verbal cues to make the scene still make sense.

The Lies of the Ajungo, Moses Ose Utomi

17.33: Building Tension

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Maurice Broaddus, and Howard Tayler

Tension! In this episode we discuss the ways dialog can build and/or maintain tension, especially when placed in context with the rest of the scene.

Liner Notes: A great article about tension for those who (like Howard) may need a solid working definition –Toward a general psychological model of tension and suspense

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

Pick a moral compromise, and have a character explain why they made a questionable choice. Write four versions of the scene – the character explains it to a child, to their parent, to a law enforcement officer, and to an old friend.

Meru, by S.B. Divya

17.32: Everything is About Conflict

Your Hosts: Dan Wells, Mary Robinette Kowal, Maurice Broaddus, and Howard Tayler

Everything is about conflict? Really? Well, yes. Maybe not in the action-movie sense, but conflict is everywhere, even among people whose goals, objectives, and methodologies are in alignment. This, of course, means that it exists among your cast of characters, and it will inform the way the talk to one another.

Liner Notes: We mentioned this famous Monty Python sketch about wanting to have an argument.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Daniel Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson.

Play

Write a scene in which two characters try to decide whether or not to commit a crime. One has done crimes before. One has not. Halfway through, reverse their positions on the matter.

Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (currently requires a subscription to Paramount+.)