To submit requests for assistance, or provide feedback regarding accessibility, please contact

Arts & Entertainment

Dialogue Case Studies

Judy Blume

Lesson time 8:46 min

What characters say to each other has the power to reveal. And sometimes, what they don’t say reveals even more.

Judy Blume
Teaches Writing
In 24 lessons, Judy Blume will show you how to develop vibrant characters and hook your readers.
Get Started


I'm going to share a couple of examples of dialogue, which sort of embarrasses me that it's from my own books. But, you know, here I am. And this is a little moment from Tiger Eyes. Davey, the protagonist, has just met wolf in the canyon. She's grieving her father who died suddenly. She's at a loss, completely lost. And her mother has moved them to this new place where she doesn't know anyone. And she's gone off on a bicycle, and she's come upon this canyon, this beautiful canyon. And she climbs down it. Falls partway down it, but there she is. And wolf finds her at the bottom. Wolf opens his knapsack. He offers me fruit and cheese. I take an orange and a piece of cheddar. You have sad eyes tiger, he says. A bright smile, but sad eyes. He waits for me to say something. I don't. Want to talk about it, he asks? No. OK. We sit quietly for a moment. Maybe someday I tell him. Maybe some day I'll tell you about it. OK, he says. But not today. Whenever, he says. I nod. Kind of sad. He recognizes something in her. And she isn't going to tell him anything. But she recognizes something too I think, or she wouldn't say maybe some day, but not today. Because she doesn't talk about the loss of her father with anyone. Father actually was shot and killed in a hold up in his seven-eleven store. And she found him. So, I mean, this is a very traumatic moment. And a sad, but I hope ultimately, you know, her journey-- her journey ends upbeat. When your characters are reluctant to speak, that's saying a lot too. Because then your knowing, your knowing she can't talk about this. And she's not going to talk about this. But the way she says maybe some day, you get the feeling that that day will come when she'll tell him. And, of course, it takes almost the whole journey before she is able to tell him. It's sad. Makes me cry. [MUSIC PLAYING] So in Then Again, Maybe I Won't, Tony has moved to a fancy suburb with his family. They've gone from being, making ends meet, but suddenly his father has discovered something and they're well-to-do. And he's not sure that he likes it at all. And Joe is the boy next door. And he is not at all sure about Joe. But Joe has a sister, and older sister Lisa, who gets undressed at night with the shades up deliberately, because she knows that Tony is watching her. Tony actually has a pair of binoculars so he's watching very closely. And now Joel has invited Tony over to his house to say that he knows where Lisa, his sister, keeps her secret diary. And wouldn't that be fun to see that. And Tony is thinking, yeah that would be fun. But here's what happens. So this is Joel now. Psst. Give me a hand with this mattress, Joel whispered. She keeps it under here. I held up the mattress while Joel searched, but all he c...

Write timeless stories

Judy Blume broke the rules. Her refreshingly honest children’s books were banned by hundreds of libraries and loved by generations of readers, who bought 85 million copies of classics like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret and Superfudge. In her first online writing class, the award-winning author teaches you how to invent vivid characters, write realistic dialogue, and turn your experiences into stories people will treasure.


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

I've learnt that you have to keep writing to achieve anything. Of course I'll never be a Judy Blume, but I may achieve something in a more modest way.

personal anecdotes from Judy really humanize the writing process. great encouragement from a real pro

I did not know when I sat down to take this class that I would cry. What a beautiful soul Judy Blume is and what wonderful advice. I'm so glad I was able to take this class!

Wonderful class and lots of valuable information. Having a character write a letter to yourself sounds great. To write 10 pages a day to have a book every month will be a dream come true. Stick to your gut feeling while writing! Thank you 🙏


Nilce S.

Again, a wonderful lesson, teaching how to go deep within the character thoughts and feelings... and feel close to their humanity, full of incoherences and truth, pain and beauty.

Hope W.

You know what I wish she would tell us? (And I totally get that the class isn't about this.) . I'd like to know how much seclusion she needs. How much "space" from other humans does she require to be able to get the work out. For a beginning writer who needs an income while pounding out their first novel, how would she advise holding down a job and managing relationships while trying to not only find the time, but stay in the headspace to do all the watching, observing, reading, writing, and re-writing. Being a writer like Ms Blume is a full-time job. Would she advise writing full time in order to...write full time? Does being a writer mean that one comes from a place of privilege? I know the answer to that last one, but what would she say? And I'm not only asking about how to manage monetarily as one begins to write their heart's piece. I'm also talking about a particular problem of women; how to manage expectations and all the apron string clinging and the demands for nurture that a woman's children, lover, and world require of her. How does a woman detach, and must she? What would Ms Blume tell us about that?

Mia S.

"When your characters are reluctant to speak, that's saying a lot, too. Because then, you're knowing, 'She's not going to talk about this.' '"I'm really sorry," he said. "Forget it," I told him. I didn't want him to think I cared much.' I like what characters are thinking - that internal voice. What they're thinking versus what they're saying or not saying. That's a very intimate thing for the reader, to know what someone is thinking, and then hearing what he or she is or isn't saying. It gives you a lot of insight into the character. We know. Myrie is about to meet her father, she never knew who her father was, mother never told her anything about him, and suddenly she is going to have ice cream with her father - her mother does not know this. They're at the table. 'She took her seat at the table. The waitress asked what she'd like. "A dish of plain vanilla please, one scoop." "Hot fudge, nuts, whipped cream, cherry?" The waitress held her pencil. "Plain, please." "Okay, just a single scoop of vanilla in a dish." "Isn't that what I said the first time you asked?" Myrie thought, but instead of screaming... Myrie said, "Yes, thank you." Saying it like that with such authority made her feel calm, in charge of her feelings. Mike Munskie, her so-called father said, '"This is awkward for both of us." She knew he was looking at her, but she refused to meet his gaze. "Maybe for you," she said, "but it's not awkward for me. I couldn't care less."' Of course she cares terribly, but she's not about to admit that. I really like that scene. Of course, it's a much longer scene that that, and she gives her so-called father a really hard time. She's angry, and shocked. She had no idea her aunt was going to bring her into this place and present her with her father, who she's never known. First she's been to the restroom, where she's afraid she's going to throw up because she's so upset at this whole thing. When she comes back from the restroom, deciding she is not going to throw up in front of all these people at this restaurant, and isntead she's going to stick it to this man. She's not giving an inch."

Tawnya B.

I appreciated Judy's additional insight into the examples, but was especially touched by her emotion as she read them. I've read most of her books, but now I'm downloading them as audio books and really paying attention to the dialogue. I think when I write dialogue, it will be helpful to read it aloud, record it, and play it back.


I liked the three examples she give us because each are different in their own way yet they tell us so much about the characters and their relationships in the story. I think it is important to give the reader a variety of dialogue so that it is not always the same types of conversations. When I am reading, I like when the characters say something but then the author also gives us what the character is really thinking. I think it adds to the story and sometimes gives us a little comic relief because the character's thoughts could be sassy, sarcastic, or just funny. I think this happens a lot with characters who are children when they do not understand something.

Alonna S.

"Saying it with authority made her feel calm."—Judy on her character's reaction to meeting her father for the first time.

Warren D.

Just such wonderful material and examples. Judy Blume shows her involvement with the characters with details that make the characters and the story come alive before you. It is an engaging experience to see her present her craft, her ideas, and her insights. Each presentation grabs your attention and makes you reflect on your own explorations of character and story. No matter how skilled you are and what you know, she gives you another level of understanding.

Bobbi K.

Her emotions while reading excerpts form her stories shows how much she loves and feels for her characters.


Yes! Real, heartfelt emotions, conjured up by her own characters and the way she wrote the scenes. Amazing! That is so inspiring. My passion lies in creative nonfiction, so every "character" is a real person that has no doubt had a huge effect on me. I hope one day to create characters though, so I can feel that bond in a different way.

Kim B.

Judy is so sweet! I am inspired by how much she likes her own characters and stories. SO important. The idea of leaving things unsaid is powerful. I know that in stories I have read, that is often the hook that keeps me reading. And from personal experience I can honestly say, leaving things unsaid is always what complicates things. Also, it could be growth tool for a character to become more assertive. A wonderful writing device. Great lesson.