Tag Archives: Dialog

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.

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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+.)

17.31: Everyone Has an Agenda

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

We’ve mentioned “area of intention” earlier in this dialog master class, but now the concept gets the spotlight. If all of your characters have their own agendas, their own areas of intention, then the dialog between them should reflect that.

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

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Identify the characters’ areas of intent. Remove all lines of dialog that don’t support that intent.

17.30: Know Your Characters

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

How well do you know your characters? Sure, you might know their age, nationality, and perhaps wardrobe, but how well do you know their internal characteristics? Do you know them well enough that you can write dialog that sounds like them? In this episode we discuss how you might approach this problem.

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

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Write monologues in which your characters tell you about themselves.

17.29: The Job of Dialogue

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

We’re back with Maurice Broaddus for the second in our eight-episode mini-master-class on writing dialogue. This time around we’re addressing the question of dialogue’s “job.” What’s it for? Why is this particular bit of dialogue in this scene, this chapter, this book?

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

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Identify your authorial intent. Remove all lines of dialog that don’t support that intent.

The Murder of Mr. Wickham, by Claudia Gray

17.28: Keys to Writing Dialog

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

Writer, teacher, and community organizer Maurice Broaddus joins us for an eight-episode mini-master-class on writing dialogue. In this episode he walks us through his three keys: pay attention to how people speak, write in a way that evokes how they speak, and write dialogue that makes individual characters distinctive.

Liner Notes: We mention Descript transcription software in this episode. Here’s a link!

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

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Record (with permission!) a conversation of at least 15 minutes. Transcribe it.

Sweep of Stars, by Maurice Broaddus

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.