Hampton Roads Writers


One of the most difficult things to do is put together meaningful dialogue. It is a vehicle for driving the story, fleshing out characters and engaging the reader. Although description and setting are important in illustrating the world in which your characters live, what they say and how they interact can give them more depth and readers greater insight into who they are.

As observers in a story, we are curious about what people say and what sort of reaction it will generate. Dialogue has the power to create, enhance and destroy relationships so it must be used wisely.

For instance, in Hemingway’s short story, Hills Like White Elephants, the main characters discuss a situation that will permanently alter their relationship. The story uses very little description in terms of scenery or character description, yet we’re gripped by the obvious tension between the two main characters.

The same goes for screenwriting. The bulk of the work is in writing the dialogue the actors will use to create memorable characters.

Write a scene using nothing but dialogue. Set it in a darkened cinema, with two people whispering together, or maybe a couple in bed talking with the lights out or perhaps sitting outside together at night. Above all, create conflict, discourse and resolution without describing the outside world or our heroes. Try it in 500 words, and see what they say.


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