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Similar exercises

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Batman versus Superman

Comic books don't have the luxury of prose, so what's said out loud needs to be both relevant and authentic. Take any conversation in your manuscript and try to transport it into the pages of a comic book. What is really important that MUST be said? What remains a visual?

Famous Lines

Dialogue isn't exclusive: characters may say the same things, but mean something entirely different in the context of the scene. Pick one of the below famous lines from literature and film. Then start a scene by having a character say it. Develop the scene that follows in 500-600 words and see where it takes your characters.

  • "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
  • "I'm gonna make him an offer he can't refuse."
  • "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!"
  • "You're gonna need a bigger boat."
  • "Oh, don't let's ask for the moon. We have the stars."

Use Your Words

_Voice separates MEH stories from the ones that grab attention. _Voice is the unique way _a writer combines words and strings together sentences. It is _a story's personality, its manner of expression. _A compelling voice is the difference between "Oh, shucks!" and "Oh, slippery slush!" (Little Red Gliding Hood)_. Between "Charmaine's showing off" and "Charmaine's strutting hard enough to shame a rooster" (The Quickest Kid in Clarksville). And between "Pancake _escaped_" and "Pancake rappelled down a rope of linguini" (Lady Pancake and Sir French Toast)_. _Examine your story for common language - for example, circle blah verbs and insert something more unique.

The Eavesdropper

The most important thing about dialogue in any story is that it must sound real. The next time you go outside, discreetly listen in on any conversation between two people (Person A and Person B) for five minutes. Observe everything about the way that they talk. Then go home and "fill in the blanks," using Person A and Person B's cadences and speech patterns to complete the conversation yourself.

Two-Thirds

"Gossip, as usual, was one-third right and two-thirds wrong," wrote L.M. Montgomery. Improvise a gossipy dialogue between two characters (Character A and Character B) about your protagonist (Character C). If these fractions are followed, what do Character A and Character B get right about your protagonist - and what do they get wrong?