“Never use a verb other than ‘said’ to carry dialogue. Never use an adverb to modify the verb ‘said’…he admonished gravely.” – Elmore Leonard
“Action expresses priorities.” – Gandhi
“Plot is what happens. Action is how it happens.” – Dean Koontz (How To Write Best-Selling Fiction)
“Characters in novels sometimes radiate more energy, therefore, when we don’t enter their mind. It is one of the techniques a novelist acquires instinctively—don’t go into your protagonist’s thoughts until you have something to say about his or her inner life that is more interesting than the reader’s suppositions.” – Norman Mailer (The Spooky Art: Thoughts on Writing)

Reading Assignments:


1.) They Say My Dialogue Is Weak. What Do I Do? – by Emma Darwin
2.) The Dos and Don’ts of Dialogue Tags – by Ryan Lanz
3.) Dialogue Rules: Punctuating and Formatting Dialogue Like a Pro – by Reedsy
4.) Inner Dialogue – Writing Character Thoughts – by Beth Hill


1.) Tips For Writing Action Scenes – by Ginny Wiehardt
2.) Here’s How To Write A Damn Good Fight Scene – by Robert Wood
3.)  How to Write a Fight Scene – by September C. Fawkes
4.) Writing movement and action in dialogue: 6 tips – Jordan at Now Novel
5.) Writing Tips: Character Movement – K.M. Shea


Writing Assignments:

1.) Write a scene between three people that mixes dialogue and action to convey a conflict, theme, mood, and/or setting. Use as few dialogue tags as possible. Use action, thoughts, and observations to help show who’s speaking. 
2.) Write three characters talking together with minimal action where something is at stake for the viewpoint character, something they will either gain or lose. Remember to use your dialogue tags appropriately. OR write a scene about first love where a character is frightened of their feelings for their first newborn baby, or the romantic love they know is “the one”, or love for a family member or friend who is terminally ill. They are scared of the intense feelings, but also scared to express those feelings to the other person. 
3.) Write a scene from the point of view of a character who has just been betrayed and is confronting the character who betrayed them. Then rewrite the same passage from the betrayer’s point of view.


Class Discussion:

1.) Discuss the articles you read. Where there any that were more helpful than others? List 1-2 things you learned that maybe you hadn’t known or thought of before.

Getting in the Mood:

1.) Write for 15 minutes: Write a passage of dialogue about a character who has accepted her doctor’s diagnosis of cancer, while her family is going nuts over it. 
2.) Split into smaller groups, if necessary. Each person gets a chance to read their 15 minutes of writing. 
3.) After each person reads, others give feedback: a) What worked? b) What needs more work? Be as specific as you can.

Group Assignments:

1.) Gather into groups of three. Read each other’s assignments (doesn’t matter which ones). Have someone read the page out loud then have each person elect to read as a character and omit the dialogue tags as you read. Do the characters sound natural? Like themselves? Can you tell who’s speaking?
2.) Find a partner. Write a scene together where a character has just called 911 and is breathless as they explain that someone just broke into their house. Include both sides of the conversation, as well as the viewpoint character’s thoughts as the suspense mounts.

LTWF: Beginner Course Syllabus