The Dialogue Shop

Take your dialogue from flat to fabulous!

Both options offer feedback, but with Option 2 you refine several pro techniques. Shop the aisles of this workshop for professional tools to power-up your dialogue. Topics include: six dialogue functions; techniques to cure flat dialogue; monologues; creating memorable lines; framing and echoing; six ways to create subtext: private language, dialect, and more; dialogue and character tags; and punctuation power.

At a glance

What: The Dialogue Shop

When: Start anytime, complete within 1 year

Where: Online

Cost: Option 1: 2.0 CEUs, $175 | Option 2: 3.0 CEUs, $200

Instructor: Noelle Rydell

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For additional information, contact Christine DeSmet: 608-262-3447

Course overview

This course is for all writers —fiction and creative nonfiction writers alike— who feel they need to “power up” their dialogue, and novelists, scriptwriters (TV or film), and other writers who want to make their dialogue more functional instead of flat.

There are 2 levels, Option 1 and Option 2. Both levels include your instructor's feedback on your writing exercises. In Option 1 (the basic level), you'll complete one exercise in each unit and send it in for feedback. In Option 2 (the advanced/pro level), you'll practice many more professional-level techniques that feature scene work based on your own writing or the suggested scenarios in the workshop.

When you visit The Dialogue Shop you'll soon discover that dialogue is a rich subject. Many tools and techniques line the shelves, all there to help you solve problems in your scenes and create more magic in your writing. In this workshop, I’ve gathered some "must know" things about dialogue into a few "aisles of the store" to make your shopping more convenient. The aisles are chock full of stuff, mind you, but I believe you’ll find the shopping excursion fun. Everything's presented in short bits that are to-the-point, with examples along the way.

I've set up the aisles so that they take you step by step through concepts that build on each other or inter-relate somehow. Dialogue should enhance character and plot; dialogue should perform a job, as well as just plain delight us at times. "How" to do all that is what you'll discover as you walk through the aisles of The Dialogue Shop.

What this course will cover


You don't need a "knack" for dialogue to improve

  • Dialogue techniques transfer across forms and genres
  • "Recognition" lines—what's yours?
  • What makes an actor want to attach to your screenplay?
  • What makes an editor pluck you from the slush pile?
  • Other questions answered in the workshop
  • Resource books I recommend
  • The basic principles of effective dialogue revealed

Aisle #1 of The Dialogue Shop: Measuring Tools

Attributes of dialogue that the gatekeepers tend to look for

  • What are 6 basic functions of dialogue?
  • What are 6 common techniques writers use and how to use them?
  • The famous "Rule of 3"
  • Review questions
  • Level I and Level II exercises

Aisle #2 of The Dialogue Shop: Fasteners, Staplers, Chisels

Connecting characterization and plotting to dialogue

  • What do we need to know about character to write dialogue?
  • How do you sculpt over-written dialogue?
  • What do we need to know about our plot and scenes in order to write effective dialogue?
  • What techniques will power up dialogue automatically?
  • A key question often forgotten for shaping dialogue
  • Use of objects
  • Review questions
  • Level I and Level II exercises

Aisle #3 of The Dialogue Shop: Big Power Tools

What makes a good monologue?

  • When do you use a monologue?
  • Why are confessions powerful?
  • Using objects to power up dialogue
  • Easy ways to make dialogue push the suspense and tension
  • How do "framing" and "echoing" work?
  • How to put backstory into dialogue without getting bogged down
  • Review questions
  • Level I and Level II exercises

Aisle #4 of The Dialogue Shop: Paint Brushes and Hammers

Simplicity and the soft touch are often better

  • 3 basic functions of dialogue we mustn't forget
  • 10 techniques in review, plus 2 new ones
  • 6 ways to prepare the surface for subtext
  • Private language of professions and more
  • Handling dialects
  • The big hammers of slang, curse words, and jokes
  • How to use dialogue tags
  • How to use character tags
  • Punctuation tips to keep the writer out of trouble
  • Review questions
  • Level I and Level II exercises
  • Postscript on how to stay in touch

How the course works

You can start our workshops anytime, and there are no required hours to log on. It's all done with one-on-one correspondence with the instructor using email. You can read and print course materials in the course Web site, which you can access at your leisure with a password that we will give you. We have writers from around the world participating in our workshops. A lot of great writing gets accomplished via email. Because of the one-on-one nature of our workshops, you'll find them an excellent "coaching" or mentoring situation that will keep you going. And if you want to just work on your own — hey, that's fine too. Of course you can do the suggested exercises on your own without the feedback if you'd rather do that. We're also here throughout the year if you have questions.