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Writers Gym ECS | 'Everyone has permission to write bad first-draft dialogue'

March 19, 2019

Writers Gym ECS

After our second week of writing, we headed into Monday ready to dive further into the process of fiction writing with our guest speaker Katie McDougall, the co-founder of “The Porch,” a writing collective in Nashville. Ms. McDougall came all the way from Tennessee to help us develop our characters, create interesting plot challenges, and write strong dialogue. In the morning, she shared her history with us. Mrs. McDougall taught here at CSS and even taught Ms. Hunter, our registrar! After getting acquainted, we turned to our writing. We learned so much! Answering a list of guided questions, we developed a set of characters and made a story for them. For me, these questions (such as, “What does your character want?”) made the creations of a character and a plot much easier than starting from scratch. Everyone came up with a fabulous character, ranging from a Russian Physics and Logic teacher to a kid who runs like the Flash. Throughout the morning we tossed ideas around and gave each other advice on how to make our stories more interesting.

In the afternoon, we analyzed the opening sentences of famous stories, and we talked about how these writers lured the reader into their tales. Ms. McDougall then had us write our own introductions and begin to turn them into stories. Next, we were challenged with writing dialogue for our stories. Everyone had a lot of fun with this. Some of our dialogues were pretty bizarre, and some made us laugh out loud. After our first drafts of these dialogues, Mrs. McDougall gave us a handout with many ideas on how to improve dialogue because, as she said, “Everyone has permission to write bad first-draft dialogue.” I found these suggestions incredibly helpful and decided to rework most of my story based on Ms. McDougall’s suggestions and tips. We all had a lot of fun and throughout the day, and we learned a lot about how to construct a good story.

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Writers Gym ECS