The Dos and Don'ts of Dialogue

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Whitney Hemsath

About the Course

From attribution tags and proper punctuation to gender differences and accents, this course will cover what your characters should and shouldn't say, and how best to have them say it.

The course begins with a review of how to format and punctuate dialogue, including how to punctuate unique scenarios, such as interrupting actions and stutters. You'll have a chance to apply what you learn to the included worksheet, and we'll review the answers together to see how many mistakes you were able to catch.

Then we'll discuss the six main functions of dialogue and provide actionable tips on everything from keeping your characters from sighing and shrugging all the time to giving each character a unique voice. We'll cover topics such as relationship dynamics, how to add subtext, avoiding "maid and butler" dialogue, how to write dialogue that's funny, and using dialogue to develop your story's theme.

Your Instructor

Whitney Hemsath

Whitney Hemsath

Whitney Hemsath received her B.A. in Screenwriting and worked with multiple film production companies before pursuing motherhood and novel writing in earnest. Her animated feature-length screenplay was selected for the 2005 Chapman Killer Script list, and her stories have placed in the Storymakers First Chapter contest, Building Worlds with Brandon Mull contest, and ANWA Beginning of Book contest. She was also a two-time finalist in the "Saints, Spells, and Spaceships" contest.

As of 2022, her short stories have been published in five anthologies, with four more anthologies pending. In addition to great dialogue, her stories often contain a little bit of magic or aliens, just to keep things interesting. When she's not writing short stories or teaching at conferences, she can be found working on her novels or procrastinating on Twitter. Outside of writing, she loves cardio dance, binging Netflix with her husband, and pillow-fighting with her four sons.

Course Contents

Chapter 1: Formatting and Punctuation, 6 Primary Function
Chapter 2: Advancing the Plot, Tension, and Conflict
Chapter 3: Developing Character
Chapter 4: Developing Relationships, Revealing World-building, and backstory
Chapter 5: Adding Humor and Establishing Theme

Downloads Include:
Formatting and Punctuation Editing Worksheet
Gender Differences in Communication Handout
How to Punctuate Dialogue Handout
Practicing Subtext Handout
Pro Tips for Dialogue Handout
Quotes About Dialogue Handout