Dialogue exercises are a great way to strengthen your ability to listen to your characters. When you’re working on dialogue exercises, you’re not worrying about plot or where the scene’s headed. You’re not distracted by furniture or waiters or sunsets. In essence, you’re closing your eyes and giving your complete attention to the subtext of the conversation.
In my post on “Dialogue and Tension: Bringing Scenes to Life,” I introduced a man and a girl waiting for a train. In this post I’m bringing them onstage again, but stripping out the “he saids” and “she saids.”
“They look like white elephants.”
“I’ve never seen one.”
“No, you wouldn’t have.”
“I might have. Just because you say I wouldn’t have doesn’t prove anything.”
As you read this excerpt from Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants,” does the dialogue pull you along? Are you reading to find out what’s up? Of course, you are!
Now, here’s your chance to try your hand.
Forty Dialogue Exercises
Below are forty dialogue exercises. Pick one and start writing. You don’t have to know who the characters are, where they are, or why they’re at odds. Dialogue is one of the best ways to learn more about your characters. Maybe one of these exercises will even lead to a new story.
- “I thought you were supposed to call me.”
- “I never, ever want to hear you say that again.”
- “Don’t just stand there looking at me.”
- “Do you like my country?”
- “My back’s killing me.”
- “How much longer till we’re there?”
- “You have to tell her. It wouldn’t be right not to.”
- “It doesn’t do any good to get worked up.”
- “How much does he want?”
- “I know it’s a little expensive.”
- “Home is where they have to take you in. Am I right?”
- “Your mother wants us to come down for Christmas.”
- “I caught your cold.”
- “Finish what you’re doing. We have to talk.”
- “Could you not walk ten steps in front of me for a change?”
- “How much longer is lobster season going to last?”
- “It’s not that I don’t appreciate the thought.”
- “Give me the remote.”
- “Could you please not use that tone of voice?”
- “Little pitchers have big ears.”
- “Hey, there. Are you in the witness protection program, or what?”
- “Set me up.”
- “When was the last time we had a real conversation.”
- “You’re big and strong.”
- “I’m so sick of all this gloom and doom. Why can’t people just be happy?”
- “Look. There’s a place to park.”
- “In my next life, I want to come back as a butterfly.”
- “Do you know what today is?”
- “I been thinking we should move to Alaska.”
- “Ten bucks for this piece of crap!”
- “You first.”
- “I’m not cold in the least.”
- “What’s your problem?”
- “You’d be late for your own funeral.”
- “You’re not my mother.”
- “You know you’re wrong.”
- “He’s a moocher, all right.”
- “Why do you have that look on your face?”
- “You should have seen it coming.”
- “You’re going in there right now and apologize.
I picked one of these dialogue exercises, and I discovered a new story that’s waiting to be fleshed out. Good luck with the exercise you choose.
Thanks dear it’s a perfect idea, am going to try it.