Tag Archives: Dialog

15.24: Keeping it Fresh, with Jim Butcher

Your Hosts: Brandon, Howard, and Dan, with special guest Jim Butcher

Jim Butcher joined us at NASFIC for a discussion about how we can keep long-running serials engaging after numerous books.

Credits: this episode was recorded before a live audience by Dan Thompson, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Something we didn’t know was intelligent has been intelligent all along.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass, by Jim Butcher

15.21: Writing About Children, with Shannon and Dean Hale

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with Shannon and Dean Hale

Shannon and Dean Hale join us to discuss how to effectively and convincingly write about¹ children. We cover dialog tools, point-of-view elements, stakes, and character ‘quirks’ that can help signal to the reader that a character is a child.

Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, and mastered by Alex Jackson


¹ “About,” not “for.” Shannon and Dean join us again to discuss writing FOR children next week!

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Take a story about adults and write a synopsis of how it would go if it were about kids. Like, DIE HARD might become HOME ALONE…

The Princess in Black, by Shannon & Dean Hale

15.19: As You Know, This Episode Is About Exposition

Your Hosts: Brandon, Victoria, Dan, and Howard

“As you know, Bob…” is the trope-tastic line we use to refer to expository dialog which has no function beyond exposition.

We get lots of listener questions about how to use dialog for exposition without making it feel like we’re using dialog for exposition. And as Bob already knows, this episode is about answering those questions.

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

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David Mogo Godhunter, by Suyi Davies Okungbowa

Take a favorite piece of media, and make a list of the worldbuilding elements which are absolutely necessary to make the story work. Now re-watch the media, and make notes about when each of these elements is introduced.

15.15: Dialog

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, Dan, and Howard

Listener questions drove this episode, and there are only two of them but they were pretty good drivers.  Here they are:

  • Is it a problem that all my dialog ends up as logic-based debates between characters?
  • What can I do to create more variety in my dialog structure?

Credits: This episode was recorded by Joseph Meacham, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Remove all description. Now remove every 3rd line of dialog. Now rebuild the description replace with body language

The Lost Future of Pepperharrow, by Natasha Pulley, narrated by Thomas Judd

14.26: Lessons from Aristotle, with Rob Kimbro

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary Robinette, and Dan, with special guest Rob Kimbro

Rob Kimbro joins us this week to talk about Aristotle’s elements of tragedy, and how they might be applied to our writing. The six elements are (in Aristotle’s order of descending importance): plot, character, idea, dialog, music, and spectacle.  We discuss this tool in terms of critiquing existing work, and in finding direction in the things we create.

Credits: this episode was recorded by Howard Tayler, and mastered by Alex Jackson

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Take something you’ve written, and then rank the elements based on how important they are in what you wrote. Now re-order the elements, and rewrite the piece to match the new ranking.

Aristotle’s Poetics, by Aristotle, narrated by Ray Childs

13.13: Character Voice

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Dan, and Howard

Character voice, the flow, order, and feel of words that is unique to a particular character, is extremely useful in defining characters for the reader. In this episode we discuss our tools for shaping character voices, and the ways in which we make sure each one unique.

Liner Notes: We talked about authorial voice in episode 12.10, and about 1st-person Voice in 12.2

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

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Rewrite an existing bit of text using three different POVs: An eighty-year old, a twelve-year-old, and someone from a foreign country.

Defy the Stars by Claudia Grey

13.10: Handling a Large Cast

Your Hosts: Brandon, Mary, Amal, and Maurice

What are our favorite techniques for managing large casts of characters, and how do our processes differ from when we’re writing small casts? What does “large” and “small” mean for us?

Liner Notes: No, Howard was not in the room. Yes, despite his absence, he was wearing both trousers and pants while he ventured into the wilds to obtain Maurice’s character sheet.

Credits: This episode was recorded by  Andrew Twiss, and mastered by Alex Jackson, both of whom have more points in “perception” than most people have points.

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Talking Heads! Write a scene between a married couple who has met at a coffee shop unexpectedly—neither of them are supposed to be there. Don’t use dialog tags.

Steal the Stars, by Mac Rogers, narrated as an audioplay with a full cast

12.18: Gendered Dialect, with J.R. Johansson

Your Hosts: Howard, Mary, and Dan, with guest-host Susan Chang, and special guest J.R. Johannsen

J.R. Johannson joined Howard, Mary, Dan, and guest-host Susan Chang at LTUE 2017 for a discussion of gendered dialect.

We lead with a quick introduction to the Genderlect theory, by Deborah Tannen, which uses a very broad brush to describe key differences between the ways men and women in western societies communicate. We then explore the way some of the individual voices we’re familiar with have been influenced through gender role, cultural socialization, and even neuroatypicality.

Our goal in this discussion is to learn to write dialog which serves our stories and our characters, and  to do so in a way that both leverages and defies the existing stereotypes.

Liner Notes:

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Use the concepts of  gendered dialect to write a scene set among members of a matriarchy.

The Row, by J.R. Johannsen