Workshop: Dialogue

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Literary nonfiction writers employ all kinds of literary devices to create stories: exposition, scene setting, description, characterization, foreshadowing, points of view, pacing, spacing, and on and on. But perhaps the most valuable tool employed in the service of the literary nonfiction writer is dialogue. Dialogue is a conversation between two or more people, reproduced in writing. Good dialogue comes across on the page as the actual voices of the characters in a story, with their own diction, dialect, rhythm and pacing that is consistent with the personality of the subjects. 

The best dialogue can achieve what no other literary device can: a conversational back and forth between speakers that sounds spontaneous, never stilted or contrived. It conveys information subtly, without interrupting the flow of the story’s action. And it reveals the thoughts, ideas and emotions swirling inside the heads and hearts of characters in a lively and natural-sounding way.

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Bananas

by Kensy Hutt (2012 writer)

Inside Plain Jane’s beauty parlor, a one bedroom apartment where women of Archer City let their hair down and then backcomb it up.

“Well, I’m gonna go,” says McQuitta, as she steps her foot out the beauty salon door.

“I got to go ladies.”

Before McQuitta steps out the door into the gravel driveway, Jane says, “Well, I missed the whole deal yesterday…”

Read more of Hutt’s Bananas

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Ready for Rain

by Lori Dann (2013 writer)

Promising, almost teasing, gray clouds hang low over the Davis Supply Company on Central Street, but so far only a few drops of rain have dotted the hoods of the half dozen pickup trucks parked in front.

Inside, a middle-aged man in a dingy green cap takes a long sip out of a Styrofoam cup.

“How you doin’ neighbor?

Read more of Dann’s Ready for Rain

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