Chapter 12 of 24 from Judy Blume

Writing Dialogue

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Realistic dialogue elevates and sharpens your characters. Judy shares her love of writing dialogue and her ideas for troubleshooting if you don’t love it as much as she does.

Topics include: Remove Dialogue That Doesn’t Advance the Story • Capture a Realistic Voice • Practice Realistic Dialogue • Keep Word Choice Simple • Be Wary of Slang •Experiment with Playlets • Write What’s Right for the Character • What to Avoid With Dialogue

Judy Blume

Judy Blume Teaches Writing

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

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The one thing that's never changed is the way that I write dialogue or approach dialogue. It's always been the same from the beginning because I think this ear that I have for dialogue, I think it's always been there. I think it goes back to my childhood and the stories in my head, when people were always speaking in my stories, and the conversations that I overheard, or didn't get right but thought I heard. I've always, you know, I'm fascinated by putting people together and seeing what happens, and one of the things that happens when you put people together is they talk to each other. And so that for me is the great pleasure of writing, and I won't even begin to tell you all the things that are not great pleasures. But writing dialogue is my greatest pleasure when it comes to writing. Dialogue helps you advance your story. Here's the scene, and here's dialogue in the scene, and it's advancing not only your story, but your characters, because through dialogue you learn a lot about your characters. It's giving your characters knowledge that they might not have had. Dialogue helps me know who the characters are, so even if other things aren't working, I'll learn that. But it won't be the dialogue that will tell me that. Or maybe I won't be able to write dialogue between two characters if I don't understand what's going on in the book. If I don't understand what's going on in the story and why are they having this conversation, then out it goes, no matter how much fun it is to do it. It's got to advance the story. And, or, it's got to illuminate the characters. It can't just be there for no reason because it's fun. And I have to say that to myself all the time, because dialogue is fun. What makes good dialogue is believable, realistic, the way people really talk, and dialogue that's going somewhere. And what makes bad dialogue is, I don't know, characters who talk in full sentences and never interrupt each other and talk in some literary way that's not the way people talk to each other. So it's a question of capturing the voice, capturing the way that people talk when they're talking to each other on the street, in the workplace, wherever. They don't talk in paragraphs, unless you're telling a really good story. You know, the other person would say, oh, go on, go on. But usually it's give and take, give and take, give and take. And I like dialogue between more than two people. It's fun. And what you can do also, and what I like to do, is not necessarily say each time which character is speaking. Because if it's working, you can usually tell. Especially if it's only two characters. You can't necessarily if it's three, but if it's two characters you don't necessarily have to say, Nancy said, or Judy said, because your reader will know. You want to practice your dialogue. And that's so easy to do, because you're listening. You're...

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 class, the award-winning author teaches you how to invent vivid characters, write realistic dialogue, and turn your experiences into stories people will treasure.

Watch, listen, and learn as Judy teaches her first-ever writing class.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps, assignments, and supplemental material.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Judy will also critique select student work.

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Judy Blume

Judy Blume Teaches Writing