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EGL 54 W — Dialogue Writing: Putting Words in Someone Else's Mouth

Quarter: Winter
Course Format: Online course (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Jan 16—Mar 23
Drop Deadline: Jan 19
Units: 3
Tuition: $880
Instructor(s): Joshua Mohr
Limit: 17
Status: Registration opens on 12/04/2017
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 1/19 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 1/24 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Winter
Date(s)
Jan 16—Mar 23
10 weeks
Drop By
Jan 19
3 Units
Fees
$880
Instructor(s):
Joshua Mohr
Limit
17
Registration opens on 12/04/2017
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is 1/19 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is 1/24 at 5:00 pm (PT).
We often hear the expression, “We’ll see what she says about that!” In real life, there’s anticipation in hearing people express themselves, and the same is true in narrative construction. Dialogue is one of our most powerful tools in building character and propelling plot. So how do we best maximize its effects? Our characters need to speak in order to voice their opinions, woes, aspirations, biases, phobias, and regrets. Scenes rich in dialogue allow our readers to observe the action and characters for themselves.

In this course, students will learn the principles of sculpting unique dialogue for each player. We will start with the most ubiquitous problem in dialogue construction: all the characters sounding basically the same. From there, we will build unique diction and syntax grids for each character. The course will go on to examine ways to maximize the potential of nonverbal dialogue, gesturing, and body language, to augment and complicate the action. Through weekly writing exercises and several examples ranging from noir to magical realism, students will examine a wide range of influences—Denis Johnson, Mary Robison, and James Baldwin, among others—casting a wide net to help them hone their own compelling dialogue.

This is the second course of the four-quarter sequence “The Craft of Creative Writing: The Dramatic Toolkit.” The four courses will focus on Scene (Fall 2017), Dialogue (Winter 2018), Plot (Spring 2018), and Language (Summer 2018). These courses are less workshop-oriented than most Continuing Studies Creative Writing courses, instead devoting each quarter to an intensive and wide-ranging practicum in a key question of craft. The purpose of these courses is to give students a more comprehensive treatment of craft issues than might be found in other courses. While these courses build upon one another, each course can be taken independently as well.

Joshua Mohr, Author

Joshua Mohr is the author of five novels, including Damascus, which The New York Times called “Beatpoet cool.” He has also written Fight Song and Some Things That Meant the World to Me, one of O, The Oprah Magazine’s 10 Terrific Reads of 2009. Mohr’s novel Termite Parade was an Editors’ Choice in The New York Times. All This Life received the Northern California Book Award. His first book of nonfiction, a memoir called Sirens, was recently published. Mohr received an MFA from the University of San Francisco.

Textbooks for this course:

(Required) Edited by Tobias Wolff, The Vintage Book of Contemporary American Short Stories (ISBN 0679745130)
DOWNLOAD THE PRELIMINARY SYLLABUS » (subject to change)