Dialogue Stories Worth Sharing

Time to ShareAnother from the files.

In keeping with the theme of dialogue (if you read my last post,  today’s  stories to share are the winners of the Annual Dialogue Story Contest offered by Bartleby Snopes. 

Unfortunately, Bartleby Snopes closed their doors (so to speak) in 2016. But, you can still find the winning stories and many others in their online edition, available here. Without further ado:  Here are the Winners of the Annual Dialogue Story Contest.

  1. The Boogeyman by Rebecca McDowell –  7th Year Winner
  2. Slurpie Safari by Sorrell Westbrook-Wilson – 6th Year Winner.
  3. Night Orderly by Ronald Freidman – 5th Year Winner.
  4. Open Me by Lee Snoops – 4th Year Winner.

Can you write an all dialogue story? Give it a try and share it, here in the Cow Pasture.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Join the conversation. Talk to me or tell me your story. I’m all ears.

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Tips for Writing Dialogue and Getting it Right

Courtesy of Script Magazine & Google

From the Cow Pasture Archieves: Enjoy

Writing dialogue is one of the most challenging skills for writers to learn. Conversations dominate our lives on a day-to-day basis, but we rarely, if ever, focus on the tone, rhythm, or body language when engaged.

I like to people watch. The mall or similar venues are great places to hone this skill. Observing other’s interactions offers a treasure trove of different gestures, tones,  words, body language, and action, to use in your stories.

Writing dialogue isn’t as easy as watching a conversation. In real life, we don’t have to worry about commas, speech tags, unclear antecedents, tone, or rhythm, or who is speaking. But, when writing, we must convey all of those aspects and more.

One of the stories in my upcoming short story collection is almost entirely dialogue. I have revisited that story a million times to ensure the conversation between the two men flow, sound natural, and is believable. That’s a rabbit hole best left for another discussion. Ultimately, readers will determine if I did my job well or not. For those of you who struggle, as I do, following are a few tips I’ve learned along the way and trust me, I’m not the expert.

 Writing Dialogue:

  1. Short sentences are best.
  2. Use contractions unless your story dictates a more formal language or it is a characteristic of one of your characters.
  3. Make it clear who is speaking.
  4. Don’t overuse the characters names.
  5. Keep dialogue tags simple as in: said, asked, replied, and answered. Using verbs like whispered, shouted, or stammered are permissible, but don’t over do it.
  6. Don’t forget body language which often speaks louder than words.
  7. Stay away from dialects unless you’re an expert in the dialect.
  8. Characters shouldn’t sound like duplicates of each other. We all have our own distinctive manner of speaking; characters should too.
  9. In real life, we often say, um, ah, or trail off in the middle of a sentence, but use sparingly, unless it’s reflective of a particular characters speech pattern.
  10. Make sure the conversation has a purpose. In real life, we talk about topics that would never keep a reader’s interest. For example using coffee grounds to fertilize the soil of house plants. Unless discussing coffee grounds is significant to the story – like say,  burying a murder instrument underneath the coffee grounds – I’d leave that conversation out of the story.

Speaking of observation, here is a look at one of my all time favorite scenes. Whoever wrote this dialogue, rich in words, body language, gestures, and action. It was magnificent. Enjoy.

Want more information on dialogue? Check out these resources:

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Join the conversation. Talk to me or tell me your story. I’m all ears.