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FICT 91 — Crafting Dialogue in Fiction

Quarter: Fall
Day(s): Thursdays
Course Format: Live Online (About Formats)
Duration: 6 weeks
Date(s): Oct 5—Nov 9
Time: 6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Refund Deadline: Oct 7
Unit: 1
Tuition: $535
Instructor(s): Nicole Caplain Kelly
Limit: 21
Class Recording Available: Yes
Status: Open
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
Live Online(About Formats)
6:30—9:20 pm (PT)
Oct 5—Nov 9
6 weeks
Refund Date
Oct 7
1 Unit
Nicole Caplain Kelly
ACCESS THE SYLLABUS » (subject to change)
The subtle play of spoken language between characters is essential to the process of storytelling. Speech renders fictional characters present and alive, helping the reader to imagine them and invest in their plight. But how do we reproduce natural-sounding speech in our stories while recognizing that our day-to-day conversations differ in key ways from fictional dialogue? In this course, we will examine when and how to bring direct speech into fiction and how to craft convincing and compelling dialogue that delineates the nature of what is at stake in each character’s journey. We will also examine the manner in which what remains unsaid can sometimes energize a text. For inspiration, we will read excerpts by Michael Chabon, Yiyun Li, Edward P. Jones, and Donald Antrim. We will also consider scenes from plays constructed entirely from spoken language, focusing on selections from works by Annie Baker, Tony Kushner, and Lynn Nottage. In each class session, we will perform generative exercises mirroring techniques gleaned from the works we've read, using our new understanding of dramatic writing to build our own scenes. Students will work toward a final finished piece (up to 2,000 words) to hand in at the end of the class for instructor feedback, demonstrating what they've learned about how to write captivating dialogue.

Former Stegner Fellow, Stanford

Nicole Caplain Kelly received the Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford in her final semester of coursework at Columbia, where she received an MFA and was nominated by the fiction faculty for the Henfield Prize. She also received the Theodore Ward Prize for African American Playwriting and has fiction forthcoming in Granta.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French & Ned Stuckey-French, Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft, 10th Edition (ISBN 978-0226616698)