Lesson 13: Judgment, Motive

Writing Exercise

In Lecture 13 we talked about the idea that well-written dialogue works on multiple levels at the same time:

  • Characters exchange information
  • The social dynamics change (people get mad, sweeten up, get defensive, get suspicious, misunderstand, fall in love, feel pity, establish a pecking order, etc)
  • Characters move around and do things while they talk

That third level isn’t always at work, since sometimes people are just sitting and talking. But your dialogue always needs to be working on at least those first two levels—the exchange of information and the changing social dynamics (there may also be other levels I’m not thinking about at the moment).

Your exercise for this lesson is to write a scene of dialogue that works on all three of the levels I mentioned above. I recommend that you keep the information-exchange simple: somebody is asking for directions, asking to borrow something, trying to exchange a shirt, etc. Pay more attention to the social dynamics and the movement and action.