Review of Dialog: Techniques & Exercises for Writing Effective Dialog

Dialog book image

This post is for my fellow writer friends out there. I just completed another book in the Write Great Fiction series and wanted to share it with you. It is entitled Dialog: Techniques and exercises for crafting effective dialog and is written by Gloria Kempton. I’ve been slowly working my way through the Write Great Fiction series and up until now, my favorites have been Revision & Self-Editing and Plot & Structure, both of which are written by James Bell. After reading Dialog: Techniques and exercises for crafting effective dialog, I now add this book to my favorites list as well.

For many writers, writing dialog is one of the more difficult aspects of the craft and certainly can be tricky. If you are struggling with dialog or wish to add a little extra polish to it, you’ll find this handy guide an invaluable tool.

The material is presented in a fun, witty and informal matter which makes it especially approachable and does an excellent job at illustrating the mechanical aspects of writing conversation between characters Using passages from well-known novels such as Harry Potter and Moby Dick, the author provides concise examples of the “Do’s”and “Don’t” of writing dialog. The book is not just filled with tips and tricks, but additionally delves into specific details of dialog and dialog structure using specific passages as examples.

The book is broken down into the following Chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Releasing the Voice Within—The Purpose of Dialog
  • Chapter 2: Mute Characters and Stories—Abolishing Your Fears
  • Chapter 3: The Genre, Mainstream, and Literary Story—The Dialog Matters
  • Chapter 4: Wheels of Motion—Dialog That Propels the Story Forward
  • Chapter 5: Narrative, Dialog, and Action—Learning to Weave the Spoken Word
  • Chapter 6: In Their Own Words—Delivering the Characters and Their Motivations to the Reader
  • Chapter 7: There Is a Place—Using Dialog to Reveal Story Setting and Background
  • Chapter 8: Breaks or Accelerator—Dialog as a Means of Pacing
  • Chapter 9: Tightening the Tension and Suspense—Dialog That Intensifies the Conflict
  • Chapter 10: It Was a Dark and Stormy Night—Using Dialog to Set the Mood and Facilitate the Emotion
  • Chapter 11: The Uhs, Ands, and Ers—Some How-Tos of Dialog Quirks
  • Chapter 12: Whoops! Dialog That Doesn’t Deliver—The Most Common Mistakes
  • Chapter 13: Punctuation and Last Minute Considerations—Tying Up the Loose Ends
  • Chapter 14: Dialog Dos and Don’ts—Some Practical Tips
  • Chapter 15: Connecting With Readers—You Can Make a Difference
  • Appendix: Checklist

As you can see from the chapter breakdown above, this comprehensive guide provides a wealth of information that can help you to bring your characters to life and move your dialog writing to the next level. I’ve not seen a better book devoted to the study of dialog than this one and found it not only helpful, thought-provoking and enlightening, but also essential. This in-depth book has found welcome place on my literary bookshelf. Recommended!