In real life, we’re polite, repetitive, and a lot of what we say is unnecessary filler. Which means that the more “realistic” our dialogue, the less it serves our fiction.
How do we break our own learned conversational habits to craft dialogue that not only convinces but also moves the story forward and oozes subtext? In this craft class, we will look at examples from some of the masters of dialogue, and discuss what makes them work. We’ll also discuss craft details such as pacing, avoiding awkward speech tags, and maintaining longer speeches (monologues) – as well as the larger issue of giving each character a distinct and consistent voice.
Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the highly acclaimed novel, The Great Believers, the story collection, Music for Wartime, as well as the novels The Hundred-Year House (a BookPage “Best Book” of 2014 and winner of the Chicago Writers Association Award) and The Borrower (a Booklist Top Ten Debut). Her short fiction was featured in The Best American Short Stories anthology in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and appears regularly in publications such as Harper’s, Tin House and Ploughshares, and on public radio’s This American Life and Selected Shorts. The recipient of a 2014 NEA Fellowship, Rebecca has taught at the Tin House Writers' Conference, Northwestern University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.
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