Dialogue ExercisesI have found many exercises useful in crafting better dialog, and it might be a good idea to post exercises in this group.Exercise:Eaves drop on a group of people and record their...

Dialogue Exercises

I have found many exercises useful in crafting better dialog, and it might be a good idea to post exercises in this group.

Exercise:

Eaves drop on a group of people and record their conversation.

Second, eavesdrop on a single person who is speaking on a cell phone.  You will only get half of the conversation.

Now, using parts of the first conversation, complete the second conversation.  How could the partial conversation be merged with the full conversation?  Be creative, but use as much of the two conversations as possible.

10 Answers | Add Yours

lnorton's profile pic

lnorton | College Teacher | (Level 3) Adjunct Educator

Posted on

I have them read "Hills Like White Elephants." We then discuss the story, identify the unspoken issue, and study how the dialogue shapes the piece. Finally, I have them write their own dialogue-driven piece in which the story's focus/major issue is never actually mentioned.

kiwi's profile pic

kiwi | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted on

As suggested by amy-lepore, I have found that encouraging dialogue in autobiographical writing first helps students appreciate where realistic dialogue has its place. Recalling the way that Grandma may always begin her sentences with 'Right, well... ' or other nuances of character can be invaluable. We look at gesture and tone of voice when speaking as well. I usually ask students to observe and comment on my individual characteristics to begin with.

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

I do something similar to this when we are writing memoirs or personal narratives where dialogue is critical to a successful piece.  Have the students close their eyes to remember their event, special person, or place, and tape record the story as if they were telling a friend.  Then, write the script out on paper.  Today, it's even easier than ever if you have a microphone attached to your computer with voice recognition software...just talk and it types!

engtchr5's profile pic

engtchr5 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

Posted on

One way to further engage students' listening skills and apply those standards to your lesson plan is by using CD recordings of old radio shows: Sherlock Holmes is one of my favorites. Stop and start it as described by others who are using movies or tv shows. It allows the students to put themselves in the place of Watson or another character, and encourages better communication skills, as well.

scott-locklear's profile pic

Scott Locklear | College Teacher | eNotes Employee

Posted on

Dialogue Exercises

I have found many exercises useful in crafting better dialog, and it might be a good idea to post exercises in this group.

Exercise:

Eaves drop on a group of people and record their conversation.

Second, eavesdrop on a single person who is speaking on a cell phone.  You will only get half of the conversation.

Now, using parts of the first conversation, complete the second conversation.  How could the partial conversation be merged with the full conversation?  Be creative, but use as much of the two conversations as possible.

Great exercise!

kwoo1213's profile pic

kwoo1213 | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted on

Being the grammar/punctuation nut that I am, it is also very important to punctuate dialogue correctly! Many of my students have trouble remembering how to properly document dialogue, so it is important to consult reliable sources about how to do so.

ladyvols1's profile pic

ladyvols1 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

Posted on

One of the things I do to improve my students ability to write dialogue is to tape a favorite TV show like I'm so Raven, or I show part of a movie like Speed Racer or something that is popular at the time.

I play a section of the dialogue, and they tell my students to write a reply to the character's question or statement.  It is the same idea as what brianjeppesen is doing, but it holds my student's attention when I use the television or projector for anything.  They enjoy sharing their new dialogue with the rest of the class and we correct as we go along.

taheraarif's profile pic

taheraarif | Middle School Teacher | eNotes Newbie

Posted on

For dialogue I used puppets made of chart paper and demonstrated a conversation between a wife and husband. The students enjoyed it and then I asked them to identify what were the things I took care of. The students identified setting, charaters introduction and the dialogues. This generated interest of the students and they were able to write better dialogues. 

swinter44's profile pic

swinter44 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted on

I also use this chart from Gretchen Bernabee to help them put their thoughts in a logical sequence. 

brianjeppesen's profile pic

brianjeppesen | Student, Undergraduate

Posted on

That is a wonderful idea, ladyvois1.  I have actually never considered writing dialog in response to movies, so I'll have to give it a try.

Exercise:

One of the most difficult aspects, for me, in writing realistic dialog has been making the non-POV character's speak realistically.  The problem rises from all the little nuances in socializing.  It is difficult to portray the thoughts of a character who is not your POV, so during a general draft, I find I often end up with rather stale characters.  I have discovered a way to ease this process.  This is the process I use to write dialog:

  1. Write the scene in its entirety from the point of view which you intend to use in the final draft.
  2. For each character, rewrite the scene completely, using them as a replacement point of view.
  3. Now that you have an accurate picture of how every character is involved in the scene, rewrite the scene once more from the main POV character.  Do not just copy from Step 1.  That was just warm up.  Writing the scene without referring back to the previous drafts will help produce a dialog that incorporates everything you've learned in this process.

I have used this process, and thus far it has worked well for me.

Hope this helps someone out there.

Brian

We’ve answered 318,911 questions. We can answer yours, too.

Ask a question