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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Dialog Tells The Story (v. 2)

These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop (http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/).

Prepared by: Alex Quisenberry
Posted on: March 23, 2003
Reposted on: April 16, 2006
Reposted,revised, on Dec. 28, 2008
Reposted on: March 28,2010
Reposted on: June 16, 2013
Reposted on: September 6, 2015
Reposted on: September 3, 2017

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Exercise: In a two-person dialog of no more than 400 words show us as much as you can about the characters' personalities and their situation. Stick to their own words.  Use as little exposition/description as possible.

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Listen to people talking. How are their words strung together? Are the speakers aiming for meaning or for effect?  Do they speak formally, in complete sentences and well-thought-out paragraphs, or do they use verbal shortcuts? From their conversation, what can you tell about their moods, their ages, backgrounds, emotional states, their relationships, their personalities, their "stories"?

Well-written dialog puts us with the characters and tells us a lot about them and their situation.

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Exercise: In a two-person dialog of no more than 400 words show us as much as you can about the characters' personalities and their situation.  Stick to their own words.  Use as little exposition/description as possible.

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In your critique you should aim to tell the author whether you get a clear picture of the two characters through the dialog and explain why. Are the two voices distinct?  What do these characters tell us about themselves and their relationship through their conversation?  Are they believable? Are they interesting?  Can we tell where they are and why they are there?  If it is important to the piece, can we tell the sex and age of these people?  What did you like best about the author's use of dialog?  Do you see room for improvement?


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Modified by Gayle Surrette.