Are You Talking to Me? The Craft of Writing Believable and Intriguing Dialogue with Patrick O'Neil

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Let’s say you’ve just written the next great American novel, or maybe you’ve finally completed your creative nonfiction memoir, and while your story and structure rocks the goddamn dialogue falls so flat it’s completely destroying all your hard work. Because somehow what you imagined the characters saying wasn’t what comes off the page and it’s frustrating as hell. So okay, then consider this two-week course your hi-octane speed date with dialogue. Through two weekly lectures, ongoing group discussions, and plenty of thought provoking writing exercises, we’re going to dissect and examine dialogue to find out what makes good dialogue, and how you can get your dialogue to be great.

October 16 - October 30, 2017

2-Week Course

 

CLASS OBJECTIVES:

-- Learn to listen for the flow and rhythm of natural conversations

-- Understand how to edit dialogue down to its bare essentials

-- Recognize when you need dialogue to augment narrative

-- Create fully realized “characters” through their dialogue

 

Learning Activities:

-- Research dialogue from your favorite authors and discuss why their dialogue works.

-- Write short “conversational” exercises to understand the natural flow of speech

-- Share assignments with peers to broaden your understanding of what works and what doesn’t

-- Take the craft and techniques you’ve learned/discussed and implementing it into your own writing

 

WHAT THIS CLASS WILL OFFER

 

Week 1:

-- Read lecture on dialogue and engage in group discussion of the material.

-- Become familiar with dialogue’s punctuation, grammar, and syntax

-- Writing exercises: chronicling daily conversations gleaned from real life

-- Present writing exercises for critique and discussion with other students in group discussion

-- Submit up to five pages of a working manuscript for critique on the existing dialogue

Week 2:

-- Read lecture on dialogue and engage in group discussion of the material.

-- Research dialogue from your favorite authors and then present it to the group discussion and discuss why you feel their dialogue works.

-- Writing exercise: write a coherent conversation with three or more characters without using dialogue tags.  

-- Present exercise for critique with other students in group discussion

-- Receive line edits and overall notes from instructor on your submitted working manuscript.  

ABOUT PATRICK O'NEIL

Patrick O’Neil is the author of the memoir Gun, Needle, Spoon (Dzanc Books). His writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Juxtapoz, Salon, The Nervous BreakdownAfter Party Magazine, and Razorcake. O’Neil is a contributing editor for Sensitive Skin Magazine, a Pushcart nominee, a two time nominee for Best Of The Net, and a PEN Center USA Professional and former Mentor. He holds an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles where he is an instructor for the inspiration2publication program. Most days you can find him teaching some form of creative writing at various rehabs, correctional facilities, institutions, and workshopsand he is the co-coordinator for the Why There Are Words, Los Angeles reading series. O’Neil currently lives in L.A.’s monument to broken dreams, the über hip downtown district, with his fiancé and two giant Maine Coons. For more information, please visit: patrick-oneil.com.