Writing Dialogue with Flair


“Please, say excuse me.”


“Please use your manners, Tony.”


“Tony, I’m not going to tell you again,” Mom stated. “If you don’t use your manners, go to your room.”

“But, I’d rather stay here.” Tony argued.

Tony“No. Go to your room. Now!” Mom emphasized the now as if it were all capitalized. She wrote blog posts, and spoke in the same language.

“But…” Tony paused, looked back at mom, and ran into his room. He liked pushing her buttons, but he usually knew when to stop.

I watched mom pick up the toys from the floor, put them into a basket and put the basket on the hall shelf. It was where things went if we didn’t pick them up ourselves. She stretched, rubbed her back, and leaned over to pick up a piece of fabric from some article of clothing that had fallen near the closet door, and continued cleaning up the house. She never stopped. She never slowed down. Always busy doing something, she managed a home and raise four children with an iron hand. Mostly, we didn’t mind. It was her style. She never screamed at us. We rarely got in trouble. But we didn’t push our luck, either.

Those moments when I watched mom in action, I admired her most. I often wondered how she did it all.

“Jodi, you have laundry to fold. The dryer has stopped.” She walked passed me and sat down at her desk, the keyboard clicked away another blog post, and I heard her phone ring while I sorted through the towels in the laundry. She always had something going on, and I knew she’d have another job by nightfall. She always did.


The dialogue in this short essay could be bland, because the storyline is basic, just passing time. But it isn’t bland or boring. It keeps the reader in tact, ready for whatever comes next, because they haven’t looked away. They’re still reading.

In this case, you want to know what is coming next. You want the transition to happen. And it will.

Focus on what people might really say in a situation, and say that.

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