Friday, November 3, 2017

Fiction Friday: Dialogue Lessons

In October, I took an online dialogue class with Linnea Sinclair. It was a great class and I learned a lot. If you get an opportunity to study with Linnea, I highly recommend her.

One of the lessons had to do with beats, those bits of action that are interspersed with dialogue to illuminate a character's emotions, motivations or intentions. As an exercise, Linnea provided us with the following dialogue:

“I can’t believe you went out and bought one,” Erica said.
“Don’t you dare tell Kermit,” Vanessa replied.
“You think he’ll be angry?” Erica asked.
“It’s my money. I saved up for this.”
“Remember, I’m just a phone call away if you need me.” 

The assignment was to add beats to the existing dialogue to create depth. A lot of the students added beats that showed how concerned both women were about Kermit's potential reaction. This is what I came up with:

“I can’t believe you went out and bought one.” Erica stared at the frog-leg cooker on the kitchen table in horror.

“Don’t you dare tell Kermit.” Vanessa removed the fry basket and hefted it, as though calculating how many little green limbs it would hold.

Erica licked her lips and edged toward the door. “You think he’ll be angry?” 

Vanessa crossed her arms. “It’s my money. I saved up for this.” 

Erica's head nodded up and down like a Miss Piggy bobble-head as she backed away. “Remember, I’m just a phone call away if you need me.” 

The doorknob poked her in the small of the back. She whipped through the door and slammed it behind her.

Try your hand. What would you do with this dialogue?


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