Arts & Entertainment, Writing

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.

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Topics include: What’s Left Unsaid: Tiger Eyes • What’s Left Unsaid: Then Again, Maybe I Won’t • What’s Left Unsaid: In the Unlikely Event


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...

About the Instructor

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.

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Judy Blume

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

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