Chapter 11 of 22 from James Patterson

Writing Dialogue


Dialogue should always push the story forward. Listen to James explain a few common dialogue pitfalls and easy ways to avoid them.

Topics include: Example of great dialogue • Heighten reality • Reveal your characters through dialogue • Do exposition the right way • Compress time • Move the story forward

Dialogue should always push the story forward. Listen to James explain a few common dialogue pitfalls and easy ways to avoid them.

Topics include: Example of great dialogue • Heighten reality • Reveal your characters through dialogue • Do exposition the right way • Compress time • Move the story forward

James Patterson

James Patterson Teaches Writing

James teaches you how to create characters, write dialogue, and keep readers turning the page.

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Set out to write a best-selling book

James Patterson, the author of 19 consecutive No. 1 New York Times bestsellers, reveals his tricks of the trade for the very first time. In this course, he guides you through every part of the book writing process.

22 lessons totaling 3+ hours of video from James covering everything from starting your outline to getting published.

Each video lesson is paired with notes, reading materials, and assignments to make sure you get the most out of your class.

Submit your rough drafts and assignments for feedback from other students taking the class (and possibly James himself!).


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I have enjoyed the lessons. My wish would be that the lessons also be downloadable as audio files. I spend more than 6 hours a week in my car.

I was inspired by James. I felt that he want to mentor the next group of writers. I still have to go back and listen to the talks again and do all the excercises to know how successful this course was for me.

Video was an introduction, but it is very encouraging. I like that JP was open and real about his first book not being published, but look at him now!

This course made, for me, writing an outline sexy. I mean really sexy.


Paul T.

Chapter Assignment: Just for fun! “You’re home early Roger. . . again.” “Yeah well, its two in the afternoon and you’re still in your damn robe.” “Because I just finished cleaning the house and then I showered. Now your crap is flung all over the living room. It looks like I never cleaned at all.” “The house always looks like you never clean it. How big a pile of clothes is on the floor in the bedroom?” “Just the laundry, which I’m planning on doing next. Can you go to the store and get some detergent while I get the clothes into the washer?” “The only place I’m going is to bed.” “Really Roger, you never do anything I ask you.” “I’m going to bed.” “No Roger, you’re not. The bed isn’t made because I haven’t done the laundry. Now if you go and get the damn detergent, I can do the sheets, and then you can go to bed.” “Fine, I’ll go. Better make some room in the fridge for the case of beer I’ll be bringing home.” “There’s already a half case in there.” “Yeah, but it’s not enough to have to put up with your crap Pam.”

Paul T.

This is the most interesting chapter so far in the class. Learned much about how to use dialogue correctly. Thank you.

Francesca A.

Chapter Assignment: "Hi, honey! Why you home so early?" Lara said to her husband as he entered their living room. He paused before answering and walked towards the kitchen, "I need a beer." "You came home to drink a beer?" "No, just a rough day at work. Why are you so jumpy?" He took in her attire. "And why are you wearing a robe in the middle of the day?" "Oh, I was just about to take a shower when I heard the door open and got nervous so I ran out to see who it was. I didn't think it was you so early in the day." "Ya, well, things aren't always what they seem, Lara." He gulped down half the bottle of beer. "Are you okay? Maybe you should go to the gym and work off your frustration." Lara looked back towards the bedroom. "I'm fine. Everything's gonna be just fine! So quit naggin' me, okay?" Ron undid his tie and plopped on the sofa. "Fine to you too. I'm gonna take a shower." Lara hurried back to the bedroom, closed and locked the door.

Joel P.

Chapter assignment “Wow! Your home early” “Wow… you're up late” “What's that supposed to mean?” “Nothing you look like you just got out of bed is all. “ “What, can’t a woman sleep in once in a while? Besides, why are you home so early hon??” “I’ll tell you later, right now I'm tired and need a rest. “ “And I need a shower love, care to help me scrub my back??” “Baby I'm tired...” “ Oh please!! You know a shower will help freshen you up. And after, you can tell me about why your home so early.” “Hmm... maybe we just see were this shower leads us..” “Oh!! Sounds like somebodies not as tired as they thought??”

Natalie D.

"Why are you here?" She asked. She scooped up the brown trench-coat he’d dropped on the couch, tucked the black leather jacket she hoped he’d assumed was hers underneath, and tossed them both in the closet. "I live here, last I checked." "I mean why are you here at 3 o'clock?" She sucked in to control her breathing. “Gee, nice to see you too, Babe.” “Seriously, Jackson, why are you home so early?” “What’s with the third degree? Can’t a guy just come home for no reason on a Tuesday? Do I have to have a reason to come into the house I pay the mortgage on? I’m not grilling you about why you’re home at 3 o’clock.” “Where else would I be?” “I don’t know. Book club. Shopping club. Botox club. Some other excuse to spend my money club.” He flopped into his recliner and pushed the button to elevate his feet. “Don’t be an ass,” she huffed. “Book club was at 11:00. I was getting ready to do a little vlogging before you scared me. I need to rant after the morning I’ve had. Nancy controlled the discussion today and the woman left me with a migraine. Since you’re off early maybe you wouldn’t mind running to the store and picking something up for dinner and giving me some recording time?” He kicked his shoes off defiantly. “I would mind. Besides, you said we’re doing that dinner thing with your sister and her new boy-toy tonight, right? At his place?” “Shit.” She murmured. Shit. Shit. Shit. He pulled his laptop from its case, glaring back at the silver embroidered company logo on the front flap. “You go perform for your fans or whatever it is you do with that thing. I’ll do some real work before I have to go tolerate Eleanore and her flavor-of-the-month. He’s not vegan, is he?” “What? Who?” she stammered. “Who else would I be talking about? You’re so dingy sometimes. On record; I’m not eating any more jackfruit, so he better not be vegan.” “I don’t know why you came home just to pick on me. If you’re going to work anyway you could have just stayed at the office.” “But then I couldn’t pick on you,” he smirked. He clicked open a file titled CV & Contacts. “I don’t know why I bother.” She turned and jogged up the stairs. “Tell Dean I said hi.” He mumbled to her disappearing backside. “Hope he doesn’t quit his night job because you’re out of funds.”

Teresa V.

Jasmine: I know. Eric: You do? Jasmine: Yes. Jasmine: Don't tell me. I don't want to know. They were silent for a minute. They heard a loud roar. The elevator shook. It shook really hard.


"This isn’t the way to your building" I said as he was leading us in a different direction. "I know. It's the way to yours." "What? But… I don't understand." "See, unlike you, I am actually good at being invisible. You just think you are." "When was the first time you saw me?" "Does it matter? Let's just say you wouldn't make a good private detective and leave it at that." "And you decided to follow me home?" "Tit for tat my dear. Tit for tat." "Huh. I don't know if I should be angry or flattered." "I think you lost the right to be angry the second you decided to follow me home. Don't you?" =================== task dialogue: "Honey I'm home!" "I know. I heard your car pull up. Talk about a perfect timing." She smiled as she walked over to him and kissed him on the cheek. "I was just getting ready to go out. It's such a wonderful afternoon and it's a shame to waste it by staying at home. And since you're home we can have a lunch date! It's been ages since we did that." "I don't know hon, I'm not really in the mood today. I think I'm coming down with the flu or something. May take a few days off from work too." "You don't look sick to me. Come on, let's go out. The fresh air and the sun will be great for your health. And we'll feel like teenagers sneaking off from school. I'll tell you what, make yourself a drink while I finish getting dressed and I'll drive us to this great place I read about by the lake. " "OK then, but I hope it's not expensive." He said and mumbled to himself as she left the living room smiling "We probably won't be able to afford it for a while..."

Nabil M.

Sam was so sad and did not know where he should go. Being suddenly fired from his job has paralyzed his thoughts 'Home: where else i should go' at 11:00 in the morning, Lina will not be there, and no one will ask me anything. 'but, what about tomorrow, and the day after tomorrow, what shall I say', 'this is my second time in two years that i am fired this way', ' I can not stand the look of my wife', 'she suffered a lot with me and did not leave me' Lina was looking at her watch: great it is 11:00 in the morning and no one will be home yet. she took her mobile and dialed with a smile on her face a number: 'Hi Ralf, I am home alone'

Mariam O.

Mary's stuck with her brother Noah who's working with a famous singer Victor. They're on a tour when unexpectedly Vic's twin John came to visit: "Hey Mary, i'm John, i'm a drug dealer, i took money from Howard, Noah's boss and he's here to kill me." John said Noah was Shocked John said that but surprisingly Mary cracked up "hahahaha who wants to kill? the guy who cries out loud if he saw a spider!! hahaha" She couldn't stop laughing and left them "You're lucky your sister is naive" "Don't you dare say anything to her! I'll do my best to save your life, i promise!" "REALLY? if you saved my life yours will be taken instead and you know it" Noah didn't know what to say "Don't fool me Noah, Why don't you take the chance now that we're alone?" " Because we're not....." "What do you mean?" "Zac's dead...he's been shot early this morning" Stood in shock couldn't believe what's just said "Who would kill Howard's son..?!" " I'm afraid it's someone new" "Oh don't tell me it's the new councilor! That's why i'm here... that bastard took everything from me and became Howard's best man.,,." Noah interrupted " How did he?" " After Howard's wife's death he was scared he'd be next" "They said she was sick" "I say she was killed! Edward visited her that day and after few hours the news were over town... after that he came to Howard to find a job..." "Then he made him the new councilor.." "Not just that...the box is gone too!" "What box?" "The diamond one... i believe he stole it after he murdered her" "He can't kill his own mother!!" "I don't care if he did or not... i just want my place back!" "I'll help you get him only if you promised not to say anything to Mary" John took a deep sigh :"I promise" They both started to plan how they'll get Edward and the diamond box.

Margot B.

Julie isn’t exactly feeling relaxed. A pressure cooker of conflicting emotions in her chest is making her downright uncomfortable. “How do I get David out of here and out of my life,” she thinks to herself as she overrides her aversion to him, smiles like a nice girl, and gives in to his touch. Her instinct tells her to find a way out of it and yet something inside her doesn’t allow her, no, outright forces her to go with what he wants rather than what feels right to her. Anyway, now they’re in the bedroom. May as well give in just this once. “I’ll figure out how to get rid of him next time,” she says to herself as she passively gives in to his desperate lips, disgusted by his kiss, his damp moustache his onion breath, and herself. She hears a noise. Is it the garage door? She braces herself, becomes fully alert. Sloughing off the oblivious David, “Shhh, don’t move. I think that’s the garage door. It must be Vernon.” “Oh come on honey, you know you want it.” He says in his slimy voice. Everything about David disgusts her. But right now, no time to think about that. She writhes out of his slithery grip, forcefully points to the back door, her latent aggression coming forth in the nick of time, “Get the hell out fast.” Guilty, conflicted, relieved and furious with herself she paints on the thin veneer of an ‘everything’s okay face’ and rushes out of the bedroom. “Hi hon,” relieved to see him she comes toward him to throw herself into his arms. “Did you forget your briefcase again? I’m so glad you’re home. Do you have time for a cup of coffee and a cuddle before going back to the office?” He is unable to respond. Stone cold. She feels the disconnect, sure by now that that amorously monologuing jerk has made his way out the back door. “Come, hon, what’s the matter?” Vernon pulls himself together and allows himself to melt into Julie’s embrace. He tells himself that the bad news about losing yet another job can wait until another time. As Vernon warms to Julie’s touch, she pulls back for a second. Glancing out the window she is relieved to see David’s pick up truck is gone. It’s okay now. She is safe in Vernon’s arms. She’ll do better next time. She has to if Vernon and she are going to start afresh and make things work.


All of your key interchanges with your characters, they're going to be good, bad, or indifferent just because of the dialogue. And how they talk to each other, it's going to reveal a lot about who they are. Who's smarter? Who's taking advantage of who? Who's lying? Who's telling the truth? Who's in charge? Who's really in charge? Richard Price, in Lush Life, you can see when he's just winging this stuff. In this scene, it's cops on patrol, and they're following a car. And the one cop says, "What do we got?" And the other cop says, "Two males in front seat." And the cop says, "What do we got?" He's asking for more. And the next cop says, "Neon trim on the plate-- tinted windows-- front passenger just stuffed something under the seat." And the other cop says, "Thank you." And then this one cop, Lugo, hits the misery lights-- the lights over-- and the cop car climbs up on the Honda's rear. And these two cops, Daley and Lugo slow walk up on the other side of the stopped car. And the driver is a Latin guy. And the guy says, "Officer, what did I do?" And the cop says, "License and registration please." And the driver goes, "For real, what did I do?" And the cop says, "You always drive like that?" And this Latin guy goes, "Like what?" And the cop says, "Signaling lane changes-- all road courteous and shit." And the poor Latin guy goes, "Excuse me?" And the cop goes, "Come on. Nobody does that unless they're nervous about something." And then the poor Latin guy goes, "Well, I was." And the cop goes, "Nervous?" And the poor Latin goes, "You was following me." And the cop goes, "A cab was following you?" And the Latin guy goes, "Yeah, yeah, OK a cab. All serious, officer-- and no disrespect intended. Maybe I can learn something here-- but what did I do?" And the cop goes, "Primary, you have neon trim on your plates." And the Latin guy, still confused, he goes, "Hey, I didn't put it there. This is my sister's whip." And the cop goes, "Secondary, your windows are too dark." And the Latin guy goes, "I told her about that." And the cop goes, "Tertiary, you crossed a solid line." And the Latin guy goes, "To get around a double parked car." And the cop goes, "Quadrary, you're sitting by a hydrant." And the Latin guy, "That's because you just pulled me over." So this is a wonderful, wonderful bit of dialogue in terms of poor guy getting pulled over, done nothing. And it's very comedic. And it's tragic comic. And it's just wonderful. When you write stuff like that, you're going to make a lot of money, and you don't need my advice. But that's great dialogue. My style-- it isn't realism. It's heightened. It's funnier, or wittier, or more dramatic than what people would really say in real life. But it feels real. It feels real. And then sometimes, you'll have stuff that really is-- it is very realistic. I think the super realistic dialogue is genera...