Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dialogue Dos with Workshop Leader C.M. Mayo

This Sunday at The Writer's Center, the inimitable C.M. Mayo leads another one-session workshop on dialogue. (On Friday she'll be at Leesburg First Friday.) Here she is with some "dialogue dos."

In both fiction and creative nonfiction, dialogue, whether a single line spoken by a character to herself, or a page or three in a complex scene with multiple characters, is one of the most effective ways to show character, conflict, mood, and/ or relationship. In my one day workshop at the Writer's Center this Sunday March 7th, which is geared to both beginning and advanced writers, we'll be working with handouts, so everyone can easily follow the examples. Here's a snippet from one, of wonderfully effective dialogue, from Sandra Gulland's splendid historical novel, The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B:

Bonaparte has made a proposal of marriage. I told him I would consider.
"For how long?" He began pacing the room.
"I will give you my answer in two weeks."
"One week."
"Then the answer will be no."
He smiled. "You are stronger than you look, Josephine. I like that in a woman."
"My name is Rose."

We'll be looking at use of body language, sound and rhythm to re-enforce meaning, tags, use of appropriate (and vivid) detail and much more. And we'll examine at the most common mistakes--- so you can steer wide around them. The goal is that by the end of the workshop your dialogue writing will be of markedly higher quality.

P.S. To try some five minute dialogue writing exercises, check out the index at "'Giant Golden Buddha' and 364 More Five Minute Writing Exercises." 

Dialogue Intensive with C.M. Mayo at The Writer's Center in Bethesda MD this Sunday March 7th 10 am - 5 pm. For more information and to regster on-line, go here

She will also be offering a talk for the Leesburg First Friday series this Friday March 5th from 7:30 - 9:30 pm on "Staying Focused: Researching and Writing the Longer Book Project." For more information, go here.


C.M. Mayo is the author of the novel The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire (Unbridled Books); Miraculous Air: Journey of a Thousand Miles through Baja California, the Other Mexico (Milkweed Editions), and Sky Over El Nido (University of Georgia Press), which won the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction. Her many other awards include three Lowell Thomas Awards for travel writing, three Washington Writing Prizes, and numerous fellowships, among them, to the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, and Yaddo. Her work has appeared in many outstanding literary journals, among them, Chelsea, Creative Nonfiction, Kenyon Review, North American Review, Massachusetts Review, Paris Review, and Tin House. An avid translator of contemporary Mexican literature, she is also founding editor of Tameme and editor of Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion. For more about C.M. Mayo and her work, visit www.cmmayo.com.


C.M. Mayo said...

Here is the list of 5 minute dialogue writing exercises-- by date:

10/19 "Nun of the Above"
10/29 "Good Cat, Bad Cat"
11/7 "Create A Conflict"
12/13 "Capturing the Sound & Shape of a Conversation"
12/15 "Worm in the Salad"
12/23 "The Flamingo Lady"
1/3 "Passive Aggressive Grocery Shopping"
1/6 "Pjugsarkjan Breakfast"
1/7 "Nag Nag Nag"
1/18 "God no"
1/22 "Magical Furniture"
2/1 "Giant Golden Buddha"
2/9 "Lulu and Sandra Make Salad"
2/10 "Larry and Saul Bake a Cake"
2/11 "Grandpa Is Backing Out..."
2/13 "Message for a Stranger on February 14th"
2/15 "Shelly's Scene Objective"
2/23 "Hank and Helen: The Beachfront Condo"
2/28 "So Terrible. So Awful."
3/5 "A Little Scene"
3/25 "Karl's Scene Objective (Charlie's House)"
4/29 "Pam's Scene Objective (Edward's Porch)"
5/9 "Cliche Conversation"
5/13 "Jacket Lust"
5/17 "With the Wedding Planner"
5/30 "Doris & Ted"
6/8 "Salesmen Arguing About Yellow Donuts"
6/25 "Sprinkle in ze French"
7/3 "She Was Telling the Truth"
7/15 "Saying No and Not Saying No: Part I"
7/16 "Saying No and Not Saying No: Part II"
7/19 "Dialogue with Body Language: 3 Scenes"
7/27 "Echoing in Dialogue"
8/4 "When in Rome"
8/11 "Control Freak, the Liar & the Narcissist"
8/17 "In a House the Size of a Closet That's Big Enough"
8/26 "Ben & Ned in the Gas Station"
9/1 "##&%#@*!!!"
9/12 "Wedding Dress Dialogue"
9/13 "I'm Sorry"
9/14 "What Happened to the Homework"
9/27 "The Italian Restaurant"

For the main page of the daily 5 minute writing exercises, visit http://www.cmmayo.com/d5mwe.html

Or just go to www.cmmayo.com and click on "Daily 5"

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