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

Quarter: Spring
Course Format: Online (System Requirements)
Duration: 10 weeks
Date(s): Apr 1—Jun 7
Drop Deadline: Apr 4
Units: 3
Tuition: $895
Instructor(s): Joshua Mohr
Limit: 17
Status: Registration opens Feb 25, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is April 4 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is April 9 at 5:00 pm (PT).
Spring
Date(s)
Apr 1—Jun 7
10 weeks
Drop By
Apr 4
3 Units
Fees
$895
Instructor(s):
Joshua Mohr
Limit
17
Registration opens Feb 25, 8:30 am (PT)
Please Note: Online courses have a new refund policy. The full tuition refund deadline for this course is April 4 at 5:00 pm (PT); 50% tuition refund deadline is April 9 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, in order 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.

Joshua Mohr, Author

Joshua Mohr is the author of five novels, including Damascus, which The New York Times called “Beat-poet 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, Sirens, is a memoir. 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)