Satire Fiction posted April 13, 2020

This work has reached the exceptional level
Lessons in self-deflection

Dialog for Dummies

by Elizabeth Emerald

The author has placed a warning on this post for language.

I shall reveal to you, my friend, a trade secret: Dialog is a writer’s vacation. After all, it’s not you speaking—it’s your characters who are doing all the talking. People regularly misspeak. Let’s not tip off the competition, Danbut, between you and I, they use poor grammar…they repeat themselves… they say the same things over and over using unnecessary words… their choice of which is more often than not usually erroneously incorrect…with superfluous redundancies…abundantly rife with tired and trite clichés…I hope and pray—and I trust—that you’ll never ever catch me in the act of stooping so low as to resort to rampant monstrosities in my own work—which conveniently brings me to lesson number one: Whenever you write in the first person, Dan, do as I do here—use another name. It’s not me speaking—it’s Joe. This way, see, if perchance a tiny little mistake were to creep in, I can just blame it on Joe.

I get it! I must say, Liz—I mean, Joe—that you are absolutely brilliant. Whoever else would have considered such a fresh perspective! I’ve always been intimidated writing dialog—this is going to free me up to just let my characters have at it. I’ll just sit back and take dictation and scramble to get their words down as fast as they can spew ‘em.

Bingo! And that’s not all Dan—another huge perk to dialog is that you can use vulgarities…you—that is, in the guise of your character—can rabidly rant about—for instance—that it sucks to get three-star reviews and how those dicks deserve your revenge.

Yes! Boy, you've really got me going now. I’m on a roll! I’ve got to mute a couple of people who gave me four stars, but then I’ll get cracking and write a story in which my characters discuss nasty ways to get back at them. Like, going into their portfolio and one by one giving each of their poems three stars.

Never thought of that, Dan—the whole portfolio! That will drop their rank by a hundred overnight. Oooh—I can’t wait to—I mean, to have one of my characters—do that.

Well, you’d better wait, Liz—it was my idea!

Oh…all right…Dan, I’ll let you write the story. Far be it from me to be so unethical as to steal another writer’s idea. I just got carried away hearing about your ingenious plan. And don’t call me Liz.

Right, Joe…sorry…force of habit. Maybe if you grow out your mustache? With all the salons closed you can’t get your face waxed these days anyway.

I never get waxed!  As if I ever would need to—shaving is much cheaper.

Well, "Liz-Joe," I don’t ever have to shave…after all, I’m just a figment of your warped imagination.

Well, if you’re going to be a dick, Dan…maybe I should withhold the most important lesson in writing dialog.

Oh…all right…I’m sorry for being a dick. Please, Joe, don’t leave me hanging.

Well…OK…Dan, since you apologized…There are a couple of fatal mistakes that you must avoid at all costs, or you’ll blow your cover. As I explained…you can coast on just about every sort of error and be cavalier about punctuation…such as, for instance, all these ellipses...I don't even bother with the pesky spaces before-and-after…and dashes—both very convenient for conveying natural speech—and even better—you don’t have to bother distinguishing commas...colons… semicolons…and periods—and no one will accuse you of laziness or illiteracy.

But the one thing you better get right, Dan, is the apostrophe. Dont dare screw up or your done for—you cant blame you’re characters for there error’s—their all your’s.


Dialogue Only Writing Contest contest entry



Thanks to MKFlood for artwork: Joker's Wild

Dialog is NOT for dummies, I mean to speak tongue-in-cheek by casting myself as a pretentious blowhard, who, shielding herself beneath an assumed name, condescends to give ''advice.'' (grammatical error "between you and I" intended)

I intend this to be facetious; the characters and their dialog are contrived in order to parody the ''instructor'' and toss some satire on our star system into the mix. Speaking of which I assure you that though Dan or Joe would avenge a 3-star---even a 4-star---review, I shall take the high road. I will hang myself from the nearest tree and let that be on your head.
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

Artwork by MKFlood at

Save to Bookcase Promote This Share or Bookmark
Print It View Reviews

You need to login or register to write reviews. It's quick! We only ask four questions to new members.

© Copyright 2024. Elizabeth Emerald All rights reserved.
Elizabeth Emerald has granted, its affiliates and its syndicates non-exclusive rights to display this work.