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Uncle Orson's Writing Class
Discussion of Dialogue and Style
August 14, 1998

Question 1:

My question is on dialog in a story. Is it good to have a lot of dialog or is it not good? Also, whenever I write a story and I use dialog it always seems that I use the phrase "(name) said." I try to vary that when I write, but it still always seems to be to repetitive.

-- Submitted by Anonymous

Question 2:

I have trouble keeping the voice of my characters consistent throughout my story. Do you have any tips concerning dialogue? Specifically, keeping all my characters from sounding the same.

-- Submitted by Anonymous

Question 3:

My problem with writing is not finding a subject to write about but how to write the dialogue and how to express the characters' thoughts. It would help a lot if you could tell me how you write dialogue. Is there a set of rules that you follow, or what?

-- Submitted by Rhian Hibner

Question 4:

I personally think that one of your greatest strengths as a writer is dialogue. I would imagine it has something to do with your time spent writing plays, as those consist almost entirely of dialogue. But I also notice that many of your characters sound like you and your wife (at least as you are in public forums like Life, the Universe and Everything at BYU). How do you go about making your characters sound real when they talk? Do you try to use your own conversations as a model? How would you recommend a new writer learn about writing dialogue?

-- Submitted by Traci R. Klein

Question 5:

I would like to use the discussion in Lesson One as a springboard to my own inquiry. I understand that obsessively analyzing the style in which one writes can lead to bigger problems. However, my problem is not with an overall stylistic deficiency, but a very specific one. Through dialogue, the voices of the characters speak with one another. Are there any techniques you can offer which make the process of composing dialogue any easier? (I don't expect a wonder formula, just some methods which would help me organize my thoughts a little better.)

-- Submitted by Jennifer Dittrich

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