Writing Dynamic Dialogue 1 - Basics

Master dialogue mechanics, attribution and beats, and start writing like a pro
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Instructed by Doug Kurtz Business / Communications
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  • Lectures 6
  • Length 1 hour
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 10/2014 English

Course Description

Taught by author/writing coach Doug Kurtz, this course is for novelists and short fiction writers who are ready to walk the talk and start crafting dialogue that drives plot, develops characters and keeps the pages turning.

Fast-paced video instruction (approximately 45 minutes), on-screen examples, self-guided exercises and quizzes will help you master dialogue mechanics, attribution and beats, and leverage these core elements into more dynamic, revelatory conversations.

When the course is over, you'll know:

  • Why agents and publishers look at dialogue to judge the quality of a manuscript
  • Why dialogue must give readers the experience of eavesdropping on characters
  • How to write dialogue that serves the needs of the story, not the writer
  • How to avoid writing expository dialogue that patronizes the reader
  • How to properly format and punctuate dialogue
  • How to use punctuation to create conversational effects that mimic real speech
  • How to write transparent attributions (tags) that strengthen your dialogue
  • How to avoid self-conscious attributions (tags) that pull readers out of the story
  • How to write dialogue beats that vivify, texture and pace your story conversations
  • How to write beats that 'show' their meaning rather than foisting it upon the reader
  • How to detect and revise common dialogue beat 'offenses'
  • How to bring the course material into your writing without feeling overwhelmed
  • Lots more...

The course is broken into two sections--"Small Talk" and "Conversation"--each of which consists of three compact, text-enhanced lectures. In addition to short-answer quizzes, sections include writing, reading and observation exercises that MUST be completed before students can expect to bring the course material successfully into their writing.

This course is the first in a two-part series designed give serious writers the knowledge and skills they need to craft publishable, professional-level dialogue. You'll leave more intelligent, intentional and informed about how you approach this key aspect of storytelling.

What are the requirements?

  • Students will need a notebook or journal and a computer

Who is the target audience?

  • Beginning to advanced level novelists and short fiction writers who want to sharpen their dialogue writing skills
  • Memoir, creative nonfiction and other writers who use dialogue in their storytelling

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


12 questions

Before you get started with the lecture material, answer the following true/false questions to gauge your current level of dialogue knowledge and know-how.

Section 1: Small Talk

In this lecture we'll set some goals, preview what's to come, and talk about what you can expect to get out of the course.


In this section, we'll talk about what dialogue's good at, what it isn't, and what's required to make it deliver meaning and impact on the page. We'll also look at a diagram that might change the way you write it.


After this lecture you'll be a master dialogue mechanics--punctuation, paragraphing, etc.--and learn to create different conversational effects--all with an eye (or ear) toward engaging your readers. This is an introductory-level section, but if you have anything less than total fluidity with dialogue mechanics, don't skip it!

Section 2: Conversation

In this lecture, we'll talk about what dialogue attribution (also sometimes called dialogue tags) is, and how to make yours power up your fictional conversations, rather than weighing them down. We'll also look at some traps writers commonly fall into with attribution and how you can avoid them.


Those snips of action, description, interior monologue, etc. between lines of dialogue are called "beats." They can vivify and deepen your dialogue like nothing else--or they can become crutches for bad writing. In this lecture, you'll learn how to make them work for your dialogue, not against it.


This is where we bring it all together, talk about the writing process and why it's your friend, and address the fact that overwhelm is normal after paying lip service to so much material. Now it's time to take a deep breath, stop talking, and write.

15 questions

Now that we're done, let's test your knowledge of dialogue mechanics, attribution and beats, and gauge some of your personal dialogue values.

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Instructor Biography

Doug Kurtz, Owner at Write Life Coaching

Doug helps novelists and other writers (memoir, self-help, creative nonfiction) break through personal, creative and technical barriers to their best writing. Since founding Write Life Coaching in 2008, he has worked with hundreds of writers at every level of experience, many of whom have gone on to secure literary agents and publish traditionally or in electronic formats.

Underlying Doug's work is the conviction that we all possess the power to self actuate, to overcome internal and external obstacles to full self-expression, on the page and off. His coaching integrates spiritual, psychological and creative techniques that address both the writer and the writing, reflecting his belief that writing and personal challenges are often related. His clients have called him "a gifted coach, "an amazingly perceptive reader" and "one of best teachers I've ever had."

Doug's novel Mosquito was published in 2007; his next, Hunter's Island, is nearing completion. His fiction, articles and columns have appeared in numerous online and print publications, and he has worked as a copywriter for Expedia and other nationally recognized companies. Doug has taught creative writing at the undergraduate and graduate levels, and is currently on faculty at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver. He has a MA in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Colorado and is a certified life coach through Coach Traning Alliance (CTA). Doug has served on the board of the Colorado Author's League (CAL) and is a member of the International Coach Federation ICF) and the International Membership of Profesional Coaches, Advisors and Trainers (IMPACT).

When he's not writing or coaching, Doug is spending time with his family in Boulder, Colorado. He is a voracious reader of novels and self-help books; an avid trail runner and hiker; and can often be seen flying above the foothills of the Rocky Mountains on his bright blue paraglider.

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