Lesson 1: Dialogue

Let's have a conversation! This lesson is designed to exercise your dialogue skills. While your piece is not limited to dialogue only, dialogue should be included in at least half of your sentences.

Prompt (vague version): In 500 words, depict two characters having a conversation. Give the reader a strong sense of the characters' personalities.

Prompt (specific version): John and Teresa are having a conversation while working on a school group project. In 500 words, convey to the reader that John is "disciplined" and Teresa is "good-natured". Do not use the word "disciplined" or "good-natured" (or any variants) in the piece.

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue

John leaned back in his chair with arms crossed and a frown on his face. He stared at Teresa who sat across from him. Between the two was a round wooden table with a half-drawn map in the center.
“Elizabeth was supposed to complete the map yesterday,” John said. “The project’s due in two days and the outline isn’t even finished yet.”
“I’m sure she has her reasons,” Teresa said and sighed. She wasn’t expecting Elizabeth to renege on her duties even if she was a well-known troublemaker. “She’s probably sick or taking care of her siblings.”
“Reasons, smeasons,” John said and snorted as he uncrossed his arms and placed his palms on the polished wooden surface. “I picked out the country weeks ago. I told her what to draw. I told her where the borders should start and end. You told me she would do her part. How am I supposed to color in and pen the surroundings if there are no surroundings? It looks like she drew half a chicken and gave up.”
Teresa bit her lip. “I can do it then,” she said.
“I’ll finish the outline and do the coloring.”
John frowned. “And what about Elizabeth?” he asked. “Does she just get a free ride? She’s not even your friend.”
“That doesn’t matter,” Teresa said. “I’d feel bad if she got left back again. She’s already two years older than us.”
“Whatever,” John said and sighed. “Just follow the schedule I made. I’ll help you finish that outline so we can laminate it tomorrow.”
Teresa smiled. “Thanks. I’m sure Elizabeth would appreciate it.”
John grunted and picked up the ruler by his hands. He decided he was going to tell the teacher about his failure of a group member the next day. “Let’s get to work.”


I think half of that is dialogue?

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue

Here's mine. I'm a first person writer, so I struggled with writing their thoughts, but I think I worked around it okay.

“I don’t think we can just leave our project to go to some party,” John tells Teresa, frowning as he looks down at their work. They’ve only just started working on their school project and already Teresa is trying to avoid the work.
“It’ll be fine,” Teresa says with a wide grin. “We have plenty of time don’t we? But this party will only come once. Do you really want to miss it for…” Teresa pauses for a second, looking down at their school project with mild disgust. “…That.”
“I think it looks nice,” John says with a grin, staring at the model of a decrepit graveyard. They had to design something spooky out of clay for one of their assignments in art class. Nothing says spooky more than a graveyard.
“It’s an abomination,” Teresa says bluntly, hiding a giggle. “I think we should take a couple of days break and come back to it. And you know what we can do in that time…party!”
“Unlike you, I want a good grade on this project,” John says, his tone becoming more exaggerated as his frustration grows. “if it’s that bad, then we should start from the beginning.”
‘No way!” Teresa says quickly. Flicking her hair back across her shoulder, she tries to smooth things over. “I was just kidding. Ahaha. Hah. I meant it was really nice, you know. Like abomination, as in spooky, so it’s ‘A’ grade material right?”
“…Sure,” John says dubiously. Teresa isn’t very good at lying. “Look, you’ll have tons of parties all year. But you can only get this grade once. Don’t you think your grades are more important?”
“Nope,” Teresa says, a mischievous look on her face. “It’s not like your grades do anything besides looking pretty. And I know there are other parties, but -this- party will only come once! I think we can take a short break to attend it.”
“Yeah right, ‘short’,” John says loudly, rolling his eyes. “It’ll be a few days at least before you feel like working again. This is important to me Teresa. Please don’t blow this off for a stupid party.”
“it’s not stupid,” Teresa huffs, glaring at John. “And I’m not blowing it off. Look, you can stay here and play your little pretend with your clay graveyard, I’ll go to the party and actually enjoy myself for a change,” Teresa throws her hands in the air as she strides out of the room, slamming the door behind her.
“…Sorry,” John says softly, but there’s no-one there to answer him. He knows that the party is important to her, but he kept pressing. A sick feeling hits his gut as he stares down at the clay model. He’d never had a grade below A-. He had intended to keep his record that way. But…
With a heavy sigh, John looks toward the door. Teresa is more important than the grade. “I guess one party won’t be the worst thing in the world,” John says in a strained tone. “It just means I’ll have to work extra hard afterward.”
Picking himself up, John heads out to look for Teresa. Knowing her, she won’t be far. Knowing her, she’ll have gotten over it by now. She never could hold a grudge. It’s one of the things he loves about her.
That, and the way her eyes shine with life.

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue

I would love to participate in this lesson and contribute to the thread but I am currently not in the right frame of mind to write a worthy dialog. Can I post an excerpt from my story instead? It has  heavy dialog and I think it fits the criteria well.

My gaze then wandered to the door to which the old man shouted to and then a person holding a tray filled with cups and a pitcher came in. I was startled and recoiled, my hand instinctively shot for my pistol in its holster, concealed under the tunic I wore. The person, if I even could call it that, had long pointed ears along with long pointed noses, tusk protruded from his lower jaw and shined under the firelight. It was fucking ugly and the last time I’ve seen someone that could be comparable, I shot him. Three of them actually. 
Catching myself and my reaction to my host, I gave a guilty smile and bowed while saying “Sorry”. 
“What are you sorry for, son?” he asked in a weird British accent. I was surprised at first, then I remembered that meeting this person was the reason we were here in the first place. 
“I am sorry about reacting to your assistant in a disgraceful manner.” I said, being polite. 
The old man sent a glance to the one in question and chuckled. “Oh, don’t worry. New guests usually react the same way you did. However, aren’t you sorry that you are about to draw a weapon in my house?” he asked with squinted eyes. 
So he caught that. “I’m, sorry. I usually had it hidden so well that even I forget that it was there. Even though I always carry it with me.” I said, reaching back into my tunic and slowly drawing my pistol. This is his place and he at least deserves to know this much in his home. I then pulled it out of my tunic but it then snagged on the cloth itself and forcing me to use both hands just to take it out. 
That was bad. If I was in a real dangerous situation, I might have fucked the drawing part and died. Still, I guess this is another thing to be thankful for, having a chance to test out my set up and find the bugs. 
I then held it up for everyone to see and laid it on my lap. “This weapon had already saved my life once, and I am very thankful I had it the moment I needed it.” the matte black color of the glock-17 seemed to absorb all the firelight coming at it. Even sitting at my lap, it looked deadly. 
The old man looked at the gun for a while and smiled, “No worries, for I usually keep one for myself too.” he said. His right hand then reached inside his left sleeve and came out with a thin bladed knife. The blade glinted in the firelight in contrast to my own and he too, placed it on his lap.
 “This one have saved my life three times back when I was still young and roaming the land. Now living as a farmer, I don’t have a need for it anymore but I still always keep it there as a habit and as a reminder of how I’ve lived my life.” the old man said as he leaned forward. “Sydell, here says that you’ve come from a land far away and wishes to learn our language for the three of you to live among the people. Is this correct?” 
The old man grunted. “I too came from a place far away from here, I’ve traveled far distances and seen many lands. Having the ability to live on a land depends most in the ability to speak the local language. Having experienced it a lot, I understand your problems. So I accept in exchange of having to live in here as a farm hand. You see, I’m not as strong as I used to anymore.” he said. 
I smiled and gave a mental fist-pump. Having to work in a farm wouldn’t be bad, besides, having to be surrounded by people speaking the language by being taught would accelerate your learning as you would be using whatever you’ve learned 24/7. 
“However,” the old man continued I would like to know the place you’ve came from, as this language we are talking in, are only spoken by the Goblin tribes in their homeland, far away.” he said as he leaned back, crossed his arms and looked at me like a predator. 
I gulped as I met his gaze, doing my best as to not flash a glance to my pistol. This old man is dangerous, and I could tell that just by his presence. He gives off a domineering aura and his eyes show a person who has live his life in violence. All that and the fact that I’ve never expected to be asked a question like this forced me no other choice but to tell the truth. 
“We came from a county called The United states, on a planet called Earth. We have no idea of how we got here, and we don’t know of a way of coming back.” I answered. 
“You're from another world. That explains this.” he said pointing at my Glock. The old man then declared. “Now that truth have all been laid bare, it is my turn to introduce myself. My name is Hues, and call me old man Hues. I used to be a thief, a bandit, and soldier. I’ve gained and lost friends throughout my life and I am now a farmer living the rest of his life in peace as my spirit now tire of violence.” he then winked at me urging me to do the same. 
I scratched my cheek, thinking of what to say. Shit, when in Rome. “My name is Adrian, I used to live back in Earth as an engineer” I paused thinking of the proper word, “A craftsman, a tinker. I prepared myself to be very proficient at delivering violence but I hated it. I hated violence. Now in this new world I found myself in with no way of going back, and I am forced to do the thing I hate but also one of the things I am good at. I hate it, but I will not hesitate when the time comes that need it.” I said. 
Everyone in the room was silent, there was no sound heard save for the crackling of the fire and the breathing of everyone inside. Sydell had his head bowed, while the old man was nodding, and the ugly one in the corner stood still where he is. “Well said.” old man hues grunted, “Well said, know that this place is a safe one and you, along with your group, are welcome to stay. I agree with your sentiment, It is not wrong to hate violence, but it is a sin to deny it.” 
“Thanks, old man.” I said. 
“Enough of that!” the old man declared with a clap “One of the ways I’ve learned to cope up with the problems like yours is to drown them with a waves of strong drinks.” he said as his helpers put a table in front of us and placed cups and pitchers. 
“Sorry old man, but I can’t afford to get drunk today as I still have to get back and tell the others.” I said with an apologetic smile. 
The old man’s cheerfulness swiftly deflated as i said that and he muttered, “I see, shame.” then brightened up again. “Well do tell your friends that I’d like to meet them too. The words the more the merrier is especially true when drinking with friends.” he said. 
I smiled and took one of the filled cups and raised it. “I’ll make sure to do that. Cheers.” 

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue

Good job on Teresa. She seems very kind-hearted as well as good-natured. However, the impression I got from John was more "controlling" than "disciplined". He did get his work done and offer to help Teresa finish Elizabeth's work, so I guess you did cover "disciplined" as well. I give you my stamp of approval.

I see you snuck some romance in there. I approve.
Just a note, you are completely free to write these exercises in first person if that makes it easier for you. As a second note, third person perspectives are generally written in simple past tense (he said, he thought, he knew, etc.). Your verb tenses were consistent throughout the piece, so you didn't make a mistake; I just wanted you to know the conventions.

In terms of John and Teresa, they both had distinct personalities, which is good, but I don't think you quite hit upon "good-natured" and "disciplined". In your scene, Teresa makes fun of John and leaves him behind after he says something is important to him, which is pretty much the opposite of "good-natured". John then proceeds to break his own rules in order to follow her, which is pretty much the opposite of "disciplined". The adjectives I would use to describe them in your scene would be "fun-loving" for Teresa and "studious" for John.

You don't need to write the specific prompt. I put that one there because, sometimes, really vague prompts make it hard for people to start writing. As long as a piece of writing fits the vague prompt, it qualifies for critique.

However, the excerpt you posted is over 1200 words. Please remain within the 500 word maximum in the future. This is partly for time's sake and partly so that people can learn to be concise.

I don't know what key personality traits you were trying to depict in your scene, but the impression I got was of a lively old man, technically retired from fighting but still sharp, as well as a young man who's a little off-balance but making the best of things.

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue

"Hey Theresa, can we get started? sure i like spending the evening playing battlefield with you however Miss Krabapple said we had to turn in our conversation work by tomorrow and we still have around 400 words to put on paper out of.... 400, we haven't started yet." an hint of anxiety bothers me, especially knowing that without Theresa's help i'll never be able to complete the work in time, i should have done it the same day as it was assigned like i usually do.

Theresa walks out of the kitchen and place a hand on my shoulder giving me a reassuring pat. "sure, tell me what you had in mind for our assignment and i'll try to help as much as i can." her smile tells me she has te confidence of completing the work without any difficulty which placates my anxiety.

"well, i had in mind of giving her this exact conversation we just had, while adding a few details like our inner toughts or opinion on the partner, sound good?" the reason i waited so much to do the assignment was precisely this, getting theresa to help me out, while i usually do most homework alone, whenever i have the chance to ask her help i do, even if it means waiting untill the last moment.

"hmmmm, i like your idea! take pen and paper i already know what to write on mine hehe, no peeking allowed, but if you want to talk while writing i'm ok." she lightly smiles and starts scribbing on her sheet of paper, i'm curious to know what she is writing about, but the no peeking obvious means i can't directly ask her about.

I also start writing, from the moment she came out of the kitchen until now, but i'm still short a hundred more words so i pick up conversation.

"so, umm, are you wiriting about someone cool?" i can't ask her directly, but maybe a more indirect approach will work; she nods and giggle a little, is that jelousy i'm feeling? impossible.

"is that someone you see often?" same answer as before, i make a quick list of the people i usually see together with her, but aside from me and our classmates noone pops up in mind.

"is he a boy?" now she raise her head and stares at me with a puzzled expression then nod again while holding a laugh, i know! she is laughing at me! i don't lose my cool and think about my next question, no more or i would sound too invasive or worse, a Creep!

"do you like him?" Damn! how did that came out?! i controll my face to avoid showing panic, i think i did a good job; looking at me with a blushing face she nods a little, i gulp all of my salvia down, i'm scared and excited at the same time, i WANT TO KNOW who she is writing about, however i sill have my work to complete, i add the last details and i'm finally done!

Turning to theresa i see she ended as well, a little nervous i offer her mine work "here is mine, can you check for mistakes? if you want i'll do the same..." while blushing she silently gives her to me. I nervously opne the notebook and find "My daddy and i at the beach".

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue


Capitalize your I's.

I think you got way too caught up in John having a crush on Teresa. He didn't display any traits of "disciplined" at all. Mentioning what he "usually" did does not show the reader any evidence that the claim is true. Teresa was generically nice, but nothing out of the ordinary.

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue

John taps his finger on the list of things that need to be done and frowns in irritation, before looking up at Teresa who is trying very hard not to meet his gaze. John sighs. “This is ridiculous, you know. You have to stop letting people walk over you. This list is basically the entire project.”
Teresa pouts, trying to sink deeper into the wooden school's chair, which is basically impossible without having to slide halfway under the school's table. “I know, it’s just… the others have responsibilities and they asked me to help out.”
John watches her trying to disappear under the table before rolling his eyes in exasperation. “It is not the first time this has happened and you can’t tell me that you had nothing better to do. We all have responsibilities of some sort. That does not give us the right to push it over onto other people.” He runs his hand through his hair while the girl bites her lip, obviously not sure what to say in retaliation, which kind of makes him feel bad. Everyone in class knows she is quick to help whenever she can. Only John knows she is a sucker and can’t say no.
“John, please don’t be like that.” She eyes him sheepishly, whipping out her secret weapon.
For a moment she thinks it won’t work, but then John bangs his head on the table and gives the sheet of paper another look, his face soon regaining its frown. “This will take us most of the afternoon to finish.” His hopes of deterring her from doing the project alone, is dashed when he looks over the sheet of paper that is now held up between them. He immediately regrets looking since his gaze is met by two blue, sparkling eyes full of hope and, and “Damnit! Alright, let’s head to the library first.”
Teresa smiles beautifully at his declaration, her sunken shoulders inflating with hope and energy. “I knew I could count on my handsome and dashing friend.”
John snorts, “Giving me compliments won’t save you this time, I intend to have a nice long talk with the others and you are going to be right there beside me when I do it.” The smile on John’s face does not reach his eyes and it causes Teresa’s shoulders to deflate like balloons.
John gets up before she gives him “the eyes” again and makes for the door. Teresa quickly follows moaning after him.

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue

"John?" A young girl posed the question to a boy, who was focusing on large blank board.

The boy, named John, grunts. His eyes not moving from the board.

"John?!" The girl exclaims, attempting to grab his attention.

It doesn't work, John doesn't  respond.

The girl sighs, resorting to poking the boy's back.

John jumps, exclaiming "W-what?!" 

A moment passes, and the girl simply smiles wryly.

John, identifying the girl apologizes. "Oh, sorry Teresa. What's wrong?"

The girl, Teresa, lets out a mumbled sigh, in response, John becomes visible agitated at her.

Teresa, feeling rushed, states her worries. "You've been staring at the sign for a while, need some help?"

"I'm fine," John said automatically. 

He had said this for a while, but Teresa knew from the blank board something was up.

Approaching it from a different perspective, Teresa asks a different question. "Alright, so how's the design going?"

John's ignored her at this point. Clearly frustrated, he looked at the still blank board again in silence.

Teresa tried one last time, "You've been at this for a while, why don't you take a break now?"

No response. Teresa finally gave up.

As Teresa starts to walk away however, she hears scribbling. She looks back at a frustrated John, who's now laying down, adding pencil lines to the previously blank board, measuring each line before putting them on.

'So that's all it took, huh...' she thinks as a smile appears on her face. She leaves the room to check on the others, letting John get on with his work.

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue

Seated sternly at the desk John diligently reads and stamps documents waiting for approval. His quiet and efficient domain is interrupted by the creaking of a door.

"Who is it?" John mumbles, never looking up from document in his hands. Light footsteps are heard before someone takes a seat. "You know, It's pretty rude not to look at someone while you talk to them." With a playful thump of the forehead John groans and looks up from his paper.

His eye's showing visible fatigue he groans, "I have to finish this stack of papers by seven'o'clock please don't interrupt me, Teresa." Before looking back down at the desk and stamped another sheet.

Teresa frowns, "You know It's only half past five, right? School ended an hour ago you can take a break," she said.

"Please, breaks are only needed when one passes out from exhaustion and I am plenty energized," John snorts.

"Stop being such a stickler for the rules, you need to rest!"

"I am not a "stickler" for the rules! I'm just saying that being efficient is best!"

Sighing, Teresa stands up, "Fine. I'm going to grab a soda, do you want one?"

"Ah, no I'm fin-" Pushing a finger to his mouth she shushes him. "No buts," she pouted before walking out the door.

Staring at her figure walking away John puts on a wry smile. Looking back down at the diminishing stack of paper to the side and the document in his hands he mumbles, "Thanks."

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue

First of all, the spelling of your username bothers me.
I got "withdrawn" from John instead of "disciplined", but good job on Teresa

Very cute. You made me smile.
The grammar and spelling could use a little work.
Your John kind of went past "disciplined" into "overdoing it" in terms of the whole "breaks are only needed when one passes out from exhaustion" thing, but not bad at all. I have no idea why he's doing paperwork, so I guess you took some liberties with the prompt. Teresa's pretty nice. I don't think "pout" means what you think it means, though.

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue

Thanks for the critique! I was wondering if I was going overboard with the near exhaustion thing, and do you have any suggestions on what I should have used instead of "pout"? At first it didn't have anything there as in "She said and walked out the door." It seemed too cold to me? Well, any other tips would be nice.

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue

Wanted to try this too: 

Here is my submission if still allowed: 


John took off his glasses and looked at her with disbelief in his eyes.

„Dialogue? What's there to learn about two people talking?” John said. “I say something, you respond. I respond, you continue... It can't be that hard, can it?” 

Teresa couldn't help but smile, listening to him rambling about something he wouldn't understand when it undressed itself in front of him.

“I told you,” she said. “There are quite some rules to follow though, so you might actually enjoy it.”

“No.” He shook his head. “There is nothing to be learned about people talking.”What possible could I enjoy?”

Her smile faded, he was impossible. But, she needed to pry the money from his ledgers to pay for the lessons, so she didn't have a choice. Instead, she decided to try another approach.

“You know, I can earn a lot of money when I finally know how to shape my world into words. And by the way, weren't you the one who wanted me to follow my dreams?” She smiled sweetly at those last words. 

He did want her to follow her dreams, but he wanted her to follow dreams like his. He wanted her to dream of having kids, of having a well-paid job. To dream of a life full of responsibilities and other aspects forced upon them by society.

“We still have to pay for the painting classes, the poetry classes and all the other recreational classes you've taken upon yourself.” He took of his glasses and looked at her sternly. “I wouldn't mind paying any of these, but you never finish anything.”

“Why would we spend yet another 100 Euro's on a course you are not going to complete? Do you think money grows on our backs?”

She shrugged. She'd never wanted to paint necessarily, nor did she want to write poetry. Those were spurs of the moment, but writing.. writing would serve her purposes. If he refused the idea of monetary gain, perhaps she should... Yes. Yes, she should.

She sat down on the armrest of his chair and ruffled the chest hair right above his shirt. 

“But I feel I can really, really learn a lot of this. You know I want to be famous, you know the stories in my head are good. I just need to learn how to shape them for others to enjoy,” She caressed his chest and pulled at a few of his hairs. 

“No.. I know what you are trying to do and I have no time for this.” His voice was hoarse.

Almost there, Teresa lowered her hand and touched his abs. Any other guy she knew would have torn her clothes off by now, but not John.

„Come on, can't we just play for a while... While you think on whether I can take this class. I promise I will finish it this time.” She winked at him and ruffled his chest hair again. “Pinky promise.”

“No we can't play. This business does not attend to itself. “ He said brusquely and shook off her hand. “But if you want to go this way, then fine. Subscribe yourself for that stupid course. But if you don't finish..”

She didn't even hear him as she pecked him on the cheek and ruffled the papers on his desk into chaos..

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue

You can complete the lessons at any time after their release.

...Were you following the specific prompt of this lesson? If you are following the vague prompt, please make it clear that that's what you're doing, and don't use the names mentioned in the specific prompt.
If you were following the specific prompt... "Good-natured" didn't show up anywhere that I could tell.

It was also quite unclear what the relationship between your John and Teresa were. Why is he in charge of allocating money for her lessons?

RE: Lesson 1: Dialogue


I can't provide proper feedback if I don't know the scene you are trying to portray. If you said you were following the specific prompt, I would say the scene completely fails to convey "good-natured" and partially fails at "disciplined". "Combining 2 scenarios" really doesn't tell me enough to judge whether you did what you were trying to do.