[Prompt] May 27 – Dialogue

Today it’s time to work on our dialogue.

Write a story that focuses on writing realistic dialogue

I’m a fan of the podcast Writing Excuses hosted by 3-4 working science fiction/fantasy/speculative fiction/comic authors and occasional guests. Even if you don’t write in these forms, don’t let that put you off. It’s 15 minutes long and almost always inspiring.

The reason I mention this is because of their episode with guest Jon Scalzi who gave an excellent, and kind of hilarious theory of why dialogue often comes out sounding less than realistic. I recommend you listen here, but the embarrassingly-accurate gist is that writers spend a lot of time reading. That means that when it comes time to write dialogue we have a tendency to write it as if we are, well, writing it. We don’t tend to write how people really talk, with all the interjections, interruptions and selfishness of people in everyday conversation.

So lets try to capture some of that in our stories today. Let’s write how people really talk and not how we wish they would.


One thought on “[Prompt] May 27 – Dialogue”

  1. I did it. I’m not sure how individual the kids sound, but I did try to write different voices for them.

    May 27 THE NEW HOME

    “Well, here we are. Our new home.” Martha announced their arrival to her three children.
    “Gosh Mom, couldn’t you have found a more remote place?” asked Jason, sarcastically. At 12, he was a city boy and proud of it.
    “Mommy, there aren’t any neighbors,” said Jenny. “Who will I play with?” At 10, going on 25, Jenny was a social person. She could not conceive of a life without a gang of friends.
    “I love it,” declared Judy, aged 6. She was the eternal optimist in the family. “Look at all the flowers in the yard. Can we get a dog? There won’t be any neighbors to annoy.”
    “Kids, slow down. We’re here because we had to find a less expensive place to live. You know your daddy is trying to find work, but in the meantime, we’re going to help by living here AND BEING HAPPY ABOUT IT. Do you understand?”
    Jason snarled; Jenny frowned; Judy smiled happily. They all shook their heads, yes.
    “Now, you girls are going to sleep in the bedroom next to mine, down the back hall. Jason, you are going to have the screened back porch. It is summer, so it should not be too cold, but I have blankets all around if needed. I want you to make your beds. I’ll do mine later. Right now, I’m going to fix supper.
    “Mom, there’s only one bed in here!” shouted Jenny. “Don’t tell me I have to sleep with Judy. I’d rather die.”
    “Jenny, you’re going to have to grow up. I know things are not like our old home, but you have a double bed. There is plenty of room. Lots of sisters sleep together.”
    “I won’t do it!” shouted Jenny.
    “Then, Judy can sleep in the bed and you can sleep on the floor.”
    “Mo-o-o-m,” Jenny wailed.
    “You heard me. No more fussing.”
    The girls made up the bed in their room with Judy smiling sweetly just to annoy her sister, and Jenny grumbling under her breath the whole time.
    “Supper’s ready.” Martha had made hamburgers as a peace offering.”
    ‘Now, get ready for bed. It is getting late. Then, we’ll watch one of our favorite movies.”
    The girls went to their room to get ready for bed. Jason undressed down to his underwear and T-shirt. He went into the only bathroom to brush his teeth.
    “Mom, don’t tell me there is only one bathroom,” screamed Jenny.
    “That’s right. We’ll have to share,” said Martha.
    “I’m going straight to bed,” said Jenny. “I can’t stand any more surprises tonight.”
    “OK, Sweet dreams,” said Martha.
    “Mommy, can we watch Casper, the Friendly Ghost?” asked Judy.
    “Mom, surely we have a better movie than that,” said Jason.
    “How about Swiss Family Robinson?” asked Martha.
    “How about Battleship Galaktica,” suggested Jason.
    “No, it’s too scary for Judy.”
    “Oh, I forgot, she is just a baby,” said Jason under his breath.
    “I AM NOT,” yelled Judy.
    “Children, please. Jason, you are old enough to give in a little.”
    “OK, at least Swiss Family Robinson is not Casper,” said Jason.
    Judy was asleep in about 15 minutes.
    Martha turned the movie volume down. “Jason, I’m going to need your help. Jenny is really unhappy here. I know it is hard for you to live here in the country. Will you please try to be patient with the girls?”
    “Sure Mom, it can’t be easy for you either.”
    “I’m OK. I lived in a place similar to this, when I was a girl. It took me weeks to get used to the city.”
    “No Way!”
    “Yep, I was a country girl. I loved the county and I think you will, too, if you give it a chance.”
    “OK. I guess I’m sort of the man of the house until Dad gets here.”
    “In a way, you are, but don’t try to boss your sisters around. You know that won’t work. I need you to help me coax Jenny, to get with the program.”
    “OK, Mom, I’ll try.”
    With that, Jason carried Judy to bed and went to bed himself.
    Martha rose, thanked God for her kids, made up her bed, and went to sleep, too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

The StoryADay

I, WRITER Course


A 6-part journey through the short story.

Starts July 28, 2023