Skip to main content

Three Tips on Writing Dialogue

By Cunning & Craft: Sound Advice and Practical Wisdom for Fiction Writers by Peter Selgin

1. Make it concise. The fewer words used to make a point, the better. Go back and cut, cut, cut—to the bone—keeping only those lines that convey character and thus entertain.

Image placeholder title

2. Include subtext. What people say and what they really mean are often different things, with meaning often buried under the lines, and not floating on them.

3. Be illogical. People are, especially when they speak—especially when they argue. For this reason dialogue shouldn't always make sense. Nor do people listen when others speak; even if they do, they often don't respond directly to what's just been said. When writing dialogue, try, every three or four lines at least, to deal from the bottom of the deck, to have characters say something surprising if not bizarre, something at least not obvious.

6 Things Every Writer Should Know About Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company

6 Things Every Writer Should Know About Sylvia Beach and Shakespeare and Company

Sylvia Beach was friend to many writers who wrote what we consider classics today. Here, author Kerri Maher shares six things everyone should know about her and Shakespeare and Company.

How Writers Can Apply Business Tools to Their Writing

How Writers Can Apply Business Tools to Their Writing

Author Katherine Quevedo takes an analytical look at the creative process in hopes to help other writers find writing success.

Nick Petrie: On Following the Most Compelling Story

Nick Petrie: On Following the Most Compelling Story

Award-winning author Nick Petrie discusses how he listened to the story that wanted to be told in his new Peter Ash thriller novel, The Runaway.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 596

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a punishment poem.

Jacquelyn Mitchard: On Forgiveness in Fiction

Jacquelyn Mitchard: On Forgiveness in Fiction

Award-winning novelist Jacquelyn Mitchard discusses the chance meeting that led to her new novel, The Good Son.

Sea Bound

Sea Bound

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, write about someone connected to the sea.

writersMarket_wd-ad_1000x300 (1)

Get Published With the Latest Market Books Editions

Get published and find more success with your writing by using the latest editions of the Market Books, including Writer's Market, Poet's Market, Guide to Literary Agents, and more!

Michigan Quarterly Review: Market Spotlight

Michigan Quarterly Review: Market Spotlight

For this week's market spotlight, we look at Michigan Quarterly Review, the flagship literary journal of the University of Michigan.

Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

Desperate vs. Disparate (Grammar Rules)

This post looks at the differences between desperate and disparate with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.