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Creating compelling dialogue

Here are 365 Creative Writing Prompts to Inspire:
Mastering POV
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Conflict in dialogue makes it lively and the raised stakes draw readers in. Dialogue tags can be distracting and repetitive. Body language can show how your characters are speaking and feeling without telling the reader outright, and this brings characters to life. A public figure a celebrity or politician is giving a long speech when they are interrupted by a member of the audience and heckled.

The speaker loses their calm and responds to the heckler in far more informal speech. We use different ways of talking depending on whom we address. Two characters have been stuck in a lift for an hour. They were strangers but they begin opening up, telling each other about their lives while they wait for assistance. Use words or less. Creating a sense of progression in dialogue shows change and this change and sense of development is a large part of what makes a story interesting. Four college students have been put in a group to compile a report.

Each has a very different work approach. One student loves to research first, another likes to organize people and delegate tasks, one is a lazy slacker and one just agrees with everyone else to avoid conflict. Write their argument about how to complete the project. This exercise will help you create multi-character scenes that are complex and rich with dramatic potential.

Imagine your character has gone hiking in a forest on a mountainside. There is nobody else around. Describe what they hear as they pass through different parts — a densely wooded area, a stream, and a high ravine.

Often when we write setting we rely on visual description almost exclusively. Describe the general goings-on in a city over the past years. Writing setting well, especially in historical fiction, requires showing place as dynamic rather than static. Describe a seaside city from the viewpoint of a traveler who is visiting for the first time. Describe the same place again from the viewpoint of a local.

Think about the different places in the city each would find interesting, and have each character list three things they love and three things they hate about the city. A visiting character might end up eating at awful tourist-bait diners, for example, while a local is more likely to avoid these.

Describe a big, rambling house in the daytime and make it seem comfortable and homely. Rewrite the piece, keeping everything except the adjectives the same. Change the describing words you use so the house feels sinister, eerie or outright terrifying. In setting, time of day and place work together to establish mood and atmosphere.

This exercise will help you show how places take on different characters according to the conditions under which we experience them. Imagine your character has a favourite place they escape to whenever they feel stressed or need quality alone time.

Describe this setting in words including at least three of senses: We form memories of places not just through vision but the other senses too. Do this exercise regularly to create memorable locations for your story.

Describe the character and what is so lovely about her in words or less, but end with a secret or flaw that not everyone sees. Story characters who are perfect are boring.

Great characters are light and shade. The villain Lord Voldemort in J. Imagine a character who witnessed a crime has to identify the perpetrator in a police line-up.

Each of the suspects is quite similar looking but there is one vivid aspect of the guilty party that stands out. When we describe characters, we often reach for the most obvious physical features such as hairstyle and eye colour.

See more here ]. Click on a random video and quickly minimize the window before you see anything. Describe the voice of the first person you hear speaking, in detail. Is there any defining characteristic? Is it low, high, raspy, clear? Do they have a stutter or an odd way of starting, pausing, or ending sentences? Thinking about the differences in how people sound and express themselves will help you write characters whose voices are unique and interesting.

Now answer these questions:. Begin an opening sentence with a character having died. Dramatic story openings that leave things unanswered pull the reader in. Why was Miss Emily a monument? Why is she so intriguing to the town and why had nobody seen the inside of her house? How did she die? Faulkner leaves many questions to answer in the course of the story. Conditionals if, would, could, etc. Great characters have history and can remember and are driven to some extent by important life events.

But write a list for each character in your novel about important events in their life, even if we only meet them when they are in their thirties. Begin a story with a surprising or unusual action. The mundane and everyday can happen in the course of your novel. But keep the most mundane parts of your book for any part but the beginning.

An unusual or inexplicable action as an opening creates curiosity. Write a first line that encompasses the whole of a story idea. Being able to condense your story into a single line is a good skill to have. Imagine a character describing her wedding day. Writing the above scenario this way can be very effective if you will later show how the event did not go to plan at all.

It will let you create a contrast between expectation and reality and this element of surprise is a satisfying component of storytelling. Your character is a high school student who has just sat his exams. Describe the exams he has completed in the recent past tense e. Past perfect tense is useful for creating anticipation, because it shows something happened before something else.

Describe a character waiting nervously outside a venue for a job interview. Describe what they are worried they will be asked and in what ways they feel prepared. It is important to be consistent with tense in a single section of your book or scene, unless transitions between tenses are logical and easy to follow for example, a character shifting from sharing a memory to describing a present action. Describe a character making plans for where they will be in life when they reach Make several uses of the future perfect tense that indicates an action that will be complete in the future e.

Characters, like real people, project themselves into the future, imagining when certain tasks or undertakings will be finished and what their achievements will look like. This helps to create a sense of both shorter time and longer time scales in your novel. The past perfect progressive tense is used to describe a continuous action that was completed in the past.

Open a favourite book to a random page and pick a paragraph. Copy out the paragraph but change every adjective to a synonym. Compare the two versions and note any differences in connotations.

Write a scene where your main character is running a competitive marathon. What is important to me? What it's like to use a wheelchair What makes me special What my dreams feel like When I see nature, I.

Persuasive Writing A cartoon character that I like A song that means a lot to me Let's help the animals by. My favorite clothes My favorite form of exercise My favorite teacher My favorite teacher My school really needs. Things I'd like to change What is important to me? Narrative Writing A cozy spot at home A day in the desert A day in the life of my pet A funny time in my family A great day with a friend A great place to go A great treehouse A helpful person I have met A person who means the world to me A special photograph A special, secret place A trip on a monorail A visit to a friend's school A walk in the woods An excellent birthday party An important time in history Building a fort Dancing to the music Discovering a new friend Funny things my pet has done Getting my first pair of glasses Going to the dentist Gone fishing!

Grandma's attic Having fun at school Helping out around the house I'd like to invent a machine that. I'll never eat another. My best birthday My best day My dream My favorite family story My first school memories My homework place My most embarrassing moment Putting on a play Rings on her fingers Staying at a friend's house Swimming at the pool or lake Talk about being scared!

The best house pets Things to do in the snow Water balloons! When I was upside down When the big storm hit. Creative Writing A cozy spot at home A dark hallway A day in the life of my pet A really spooky story A trip in a submarine A walk in the woods An excellent birthday party An important time in history Building a fort Discovering a new friend Donuts for dinner Funny things my pet has done Going to the dentist Gone fishing!

Grandma's attic I'd like to invent a machine that. Making my favorite food My dream Rings on her fingers Something I wish would happen Staying at a friend's house Summer games Talk about being scared! What if there were no electricity What if we suddenly had to move?

What my dreams feel like When I see nature, I. Research Writing A trip in a submarine All about an amazing animal An amazing animal Creatures that live in the ocean Creepy, crawly things Dirt bikes and skateboards How to stop hiccups I don't understand why.

Looking at the globe Summer games What it's like to use a wheelchair. Grade 5 Back to Top. Explanatory Writing A cartoon character that I like A song that means a lot to me A special photograph A special, secret place A trip in a submarine An important time in history Building a fort Creatures that live in the ocean Creepy, crawly things Dirt bikes and skateboards Do I want to be famous?

How to stop hiccups How we divide the chores at our house I don't understand why. Looking at the globe My favorite clothes My favorite form of exercise Pizza is. What it's like to use a wheelchair What my dreams feel like When I see nature, I. My favorite clothes My favorite form of exercise My favorite teacher My school really needs. Narrative Writing A day in the life of my pet A special photograph A special, secret place A visit to a friend's school An excellent birthday party An important time in history Building a fort Discovering a new friend Getting my first pair of glasses Going to the dentist Gone fishing!

My best day My first school memories My most embarrassing moment Rings on her fingers Staying at a friend's house Talk about being scared! Response to Literature If I wrote like the author of. Creative Writing A day in the life of my pet A really spooky story A trip in a submarine An excellent birthday party An important time in history Building a fort Discovering a new friend Going to the dentist Gone fishing!

Rings on her fingers Staying at a friend's house Summer games Talk about being scared! What if we suddenly had to move? Research Writing A trip in a submarine Creatures that live in the ocean Creepy, crawly things Dirt bikes and skateboards How to stop hiccups I don't understand why. Grade 6 Back to Top. Explanatory Writing A game that meant a lot to my childhood A school field trip A toy I've held onto all these years A trip to a space station A typical lunch hour Can farmers grow enough food for everyone?

Here's what a new student needs to know How I can change the way I look How I picture myself four years from now How I would define the word. I would have liked to have lived during this time. I'm principal for the day. Here is my schedule. I've done something that no one else has done If I could be someone else, I would be.

My bedroom from top to bottom My chores My favorite place My idea of a fun weekend My life as a. My participation in an activity outside of school One thing I want to do by the time I leave 8th grade Overcoming health problems The wildest hairstyle I have ever seen What a family member taught me What a house of the future might look like What I broke or lost that belongs to someone else.

Persuasive Writing A big hazard on the road A big problem in education is. Why I deserve a larger allowance Why parents should be honest with their kids Why school fund-raisers are important Why weekends need to be longer. Narrative Writing A cool store A game that meant a lot to my childhood A memorable bus ride A narrow escape from trouble A school field trip A time that was just not fair A toy I've held onto all these years A typical lunch hour A visit to a relative's house I've done something that no one else has done If I lived back in history If only I would have listened!

My best class ever My first concert My first friend My idea of a fun weekend My life as a. My participation in an activity outside of school Overcoming health problems Summer in a cabin by a lake The most fun I've had recently The worst food I ever ate We couldn't stop laughing!

What a family member taught me What I broke or lost that belongs to someone else When I was lost. Response to Literature A great book made into a great movie My favorite character from a book What if a book came to life? What this story means to me.

If I lived back in history If only I would have listened! Life among the cloud people Long ago and far away Meeting myself in the future My favorite place My life as a. Overcoming health problems Traveling west in a wagon train We couldn't stop laughing!

What if a book came to life? When the dinosaurs returned. Research Writing A job I'd really like to have A trip to a space station All about an amazing place Can farmers grow enough food for everyone?

Discover nature I would have liked to have lived during this time. Long ago and far away The most fascinating things I learned The tallest, the deepest, the longest, the biggest Traveling west in a wagon train What a house of the future might look like When I conducted an experiment When science took a big leap forward.

Personal Writing The book that got me hooked on reading What a family member taught me. Grade 7 Back to Top. Grade 8 Back to Top. Grade 9 Back to Top. Explanatory Writing A day I will always remember A friend who moved away A great scientific breakthrough A person who changed history A personal habit I'd like to change A project I am working on A typical evening at home A visit with the doctor or dentist An invention that transformed the world Causes of a huge change in the world Coping with brothers and sisters Hanging out How a vehicle works How do people cope with constant pain?

How I express myself artistically How it would feel to walk in space I admit it: I enjoy professional wrestling. I take some things too seriously If I were a superhero, I'd be. Is pollution a necessary evil? Morning madness My craziest experience in a restaurant or shopping mall My dream car My first crush My first encounter with a bully My muscles were so sore after.

My Web site Overcoming health problems Self-esteem Something this school really needs is. The next wave of social media The toys I'll never give up Tools I will need in my intended profession We all make mistakes What animals can teach people What different colors mean to me What do Americans do well? What do I do to break routine? What do I worry about?

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