Learn to Write Great Dialogue

Online Creative Writing Course: Mastering Dialogue

Great dialogue hooks readers and brings a story to life. This course will show you how to write dialogue like a master.

You'll learn to...

•    create a unique voice for each of your characters.

•    use dialogue to improve your character development, plotting,
   pacing, and setting.

•    achieve the right mix of "showing" and "telling."

•    add layers of meaning to your dialogue.

•    write dialogue that holds your readers’ interest.

Since the course is taught by e-mail, you can learn from anywhere, studying when you have time in your schedule.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN



Lesson 1: Inhabiting a Character
  • How to write what your characters would actually say.
  • How to listen like a writer and improve your ear for dialogue.
Lesson 2: Turning Speech into Dialogue
  • How to write dialogue that's even better than authentic speech.
  • How to edit dialogue.
  • How to find the center of a conversation.
Lesson 3: Dialogue and Summary
  • When to use dialogue and when to use summary.
  • How to mix dialogue and summary for the best results.
  • How to format and punctuate dialogue.
Lesson 4: Beats and Tags
  • How to use dialogue tags effectively.
  • How to use descriptive beats to create different effects.
  • How to show a character's emotions, attitudes, and intentions.
Lesson 5: Pacing, Silence, Subtext
  • How to avoid "talking head syndrome."
  • How to help readers visualize the scene where your dialogue’s taking place.
  • How to slow dialogue down or speed it up.
  • How to create pauses and silences on the page.
  • How to use subtext to make your dialogue richer, with layers of meaning.
Lesson 6: Voice and Interior Monologue
  • How to create unique voices for your characters.
  • How to present your characters' thoughts on the page.
Lesson 7: Ways to Use Dialogue
  • How to use dialogue for character development, plotting, pacing, setting, and exposition.
  • The right and wrong ways to communicate information through dialogue.
  • How to make your dialogue perform more than one function at once.
Lesson 8: More Interesting Dialogue
  • How to make your dialogue more interesting by creating tension.
  • How to make your dialogue more subtle.
  • Characters who add interest to your dialogue.
  • How to deal with special dialogue challenges.
  • Dialogue revision checklist.


Your teacher
Mastering Dialogue is taught by Nancy Strauss, the Online Courses Director at Creative Writing Now. Nancy has an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan, where she has also taught creative and expository writing. Nancy Strauss

What you get in the course

Mastering Dialogue includes:

  • eight e-mail lessons (one lesson a week for eight weeks. The first lesson will normally be sent to you within an hour after you confirm your course registration.)
  • weekly exercises included in the lessons
  • the chance to e-mail any questions about the lessons to a writing teacher.*
  • the chance to publish your writing on the class blog.

*Note: Please note that feedback on your writing assignments is not included in this course, which has been designed for self-study. While teachers will be available to answer general questions, they will not be able to read or comment on your fiction.

We guarantee the value of this course. If you change your mind any time during the first 20 days, you can ask for a refund.


Feedback on our Courses



"One of my stories, "Bubble", has been published. If I hadn't taken your course I couldn't even imagine that. Many, many thanks for inspiring me."
     - Rasheed

"I have to say that this course has been really inspiring and it's given my writing a new lease on life."
     - Robin Gott

"I saw that my writing had improved 100%."
     - Jill Gairdner

"The writing exercises are intriguing and practically beg you to get started. The lessons themselves are concise and straight-forward, easy to understand and to apply to your own writing.”
     - Sally Derby

"Wow! I loved this first lesson. I loved every minute of writing writing writing. I really look forward to my 2nd lesson."
     - Sarah

“Loving the course.”
     - Wendy

"A great, fun, practical way to get the creative juices flowing and call forth the writer's muse."
     - Man Martin

"I find Lesson 4 very interesting, so much so that all the distractions facing me at the moment of writing were not able to actually distract me."
     - Linda

"Innovative and stimulating."
     - Charles Hartik

“Thanks for this lesson. I used it for one of the characters in my newest WIP and I got a very interesting scene out of it!”
     - Carolyn

“Thanks for this awesome learning opportunity.”
     - Claire

“It's absolutely perfect! I want more!”
     - Amanda

Sign up now


Mastering Dialogue - Includes 8 e-mail lessons, weekly assignments, the chance to publish on the course blog, and the chance to ask a teacher general questions. Feedback on assignments is currently not available for this course.
Special reduced price - $20.99



Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some answers to questions you may have about the course:

Q: How/when will I get my lessons?

A: Your answers will be sent to you by e-mail, once a week for eight weeks. Here's how it works: when you purchase the course, you will be asked for an e-mail address. After your purchase is complete, you will normally receive the first lesson within one hour.

Q: How much time will I need to complete the assignments?

A: The lessons are specially designed so that you can read and absorb them quickly. And the writing assignments can also be completed fast. But as with most things, what you get out of this course depends on what you put into it. So we suggest making time to revise your weekly assignments and do some additional writing. Ideally, try to schedule a regular time for your writing at least five days a week -- even if it is only ten minutes per day.

Q: Will I have to buy any books or additional materials?

A: There are no additional materials required for the course. The online format will also save you money versus an offline course, where you would have logistical expenses such as transportation, parking, childcare, and so on.

Q: Is the course just for fiction writing, or will it help me write plays, screenplays, essays, articles, poetry, etc.?

A: The course is focused on fiction writing (short stories or novels). If you are mainly interested in writing screenplays, articles, poetry, or another genre, this course may not be right for you.

Q: What if I don't understand something in one of the lessons?

A: No worries. You can e-mail us, and a teacher will answer your questions about the course.

Q: How do I get feedback on my writing assignments?

A: We currently do not offer a teacher feedback option for this course. However, you will have the chance to publish your fiction on the course blog, where other students might leave comments.

Q: How soon do I have to decide?

A: If you're really interested in taking this course, it is safer to sign up now while it's still open.

Q: What if I change my mind after I purchase the course?

A: No problem! If you change your mind, just ask us for a refund. You can send us an e-mail any time during the first 20 days, and just tell us you've changed your mind, then we'll refund 100% of your payment. No hassle; no hard feelings. So you actually have nothing to lose by signing up for the course now.

Q: What if my question was not answered here?

A: Please just send us an e-mail, and we'll be delighted to answer all your questions.



Sign up now


Mastering Dialogue - Includes 8 e-mail lessons, weekly assignments, the chance to publish on the course blog, and the chance to ask a teacher general questions. Feedback on assignments is currently not available for this course.
Special reduced price - $20.99



P.S. Still not sure? Give the course a try and see what you think. You have 20 days to decide if it's for you or ask for a refund.


Questions? Please contact us

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