As noted in this post last month:
What if in February, we put the spotlight on writing dialogue?
A Dialogue-Writing Challenge!
Here’s my idea: We crowdsource a bunch of dialogue-writing prompts. From that, we choose the 20 best ones. Then next month, Monday through Friday, much like the scene-writing exercises, I invite people to take each prompt, use it to write dialogue, then upload the dialogue to the site for peer feedback.
People submitted some great dialogue-writing prompts, so let’s do this!
Every Monday-Friday at noon Eastern / 9AM Pacific in February, I will upload a post with a prompt for writing dialogue. Each day, write a scene per those guidelines. If you really want to get in the spirit of things, upload your scene here in the comments section of the original post. That way you can critique others’ pages and receive feedback on your dialogue as well.
To provide extra motivation for this series — to get people to WRITE PAGES — I am giving away some of my Craft classes to Dialogue-Writing Challenge participants. That’s right: For free!
The Craft classes highlight key principles and practices tied to the nitty gritty of writing a script. Here is the Craft lineup, the only time I will teach each of these courses in 2015:
January 19: Craft: Pixar and the Craft of Storytelling
February 2: Craft: Story Summaries
February 16: Craft: Handling Exposition
March 16: Craft: The Coen Brothers and the Craft of Storytelling
March 30: Craft: Character Development Keys
April 27: Craft: Create a Compelling Protagonist
May 11: Craft: Write a Worthy Nemesis
May 25: Craft: Scene Description Spotlight
Each is a 1-week online class featuring 7 lectures written by me, lots of screenwriting insider tips, logline workshops, optional writing exercises, 24/7 message board conversations, teleconferences with course participants and myself to discuss anything related to the craft of scriptwriting.
A popular option is the Craft Package which gives you access to the content in all eight Craft classes which you can go through on your own time and at your own pace, plus automatic enrollment in each 1-week online course. All for nearly 50% the price of each individual class.
To qualify to take one of my Craft classes for free, write and submit ten  Dialogue-Writing Challenge posts, then provide feedback on ten  posts from other writers. The former to get you writing, the latter to work your critical-analytical skills.
A chance to take any of my eight Craft classes, interface with me online along with the usual stellar group of writers who take Screenwriting Master Class courses, while using writing exercises and feedback to upgrade your skill at writing and analyzing dialogue.
ISN’T THAT AN AWESOME IDEA?!!!
A couple of logistical notes:
* Limit your post to 2 pages. Out of fairness to everyone participating in the public dialogue-writing workshop, let’s not abuse anyone’s patience or time with really long scenes.
* Give your scenes a beginning, middle and end. You may enter late and exit early, but provide an arc to each of your posts. Even monologues or telephone conversations, both of which we will be doing this month.
* Don’t be concerned about proper script format when you copy/paste your pages, rather the content and execution are the important thing. So as a default mode, do this: (1) Don’t worry about right-hand margins on scene description or dialogue, just keep typing until it manually shifts each line. (2) Don’t worry about character name position, rather do this:
SCARLETT: Rhett, Rhett... Rhett, if you go, where shall I go? What shall I do?
RHETT: Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
Today’s prompt: A scene in which characters can say no more than five words per side.
This is a test in economical writing. Characters can say lot in a few words and this is your chance to explore the potential of short sentences and key words. Remember: No more than 5 words per side.
SCARLETT: What is a side?
RHETT: What you just said.
RHETT: That was a side, too.
SCARLETT: I don't understand.
RHETT: Did it again.
A side is any character’s single exchange. It could be one line or multiple lines.
Focus on the dialogue, not the action to drive the scene. In most movies, it’s the other way around because movies are primarily a visual medium, however sometimes the script requires a dialogue-driven scene and we need to hone our chops at being able to do that effectively.
Write a 1-2 page dialogue-centric scene, then copy/paste in comments.
If you are interested in qualifying for 1 free Craft class with me, please note in each post you submit the number of scenes you have written. If today is your first effort, note that it is Scene 1. The next one, Scene 2. And so forth.
Also when you provide feedback on someone’s scene, please note in each reply the number of comments you have uploaded. So if today is your first response, Feedback 1. The next one, Feedback 2.
You are on an honor system, as I don’t have time to check every post, so do the right thing!
Remember: In order to qualify for one of my free Craft classes, you need to submit ten  Dialogue-Writing Challenge posts, then provide feedback on ten  posts from other writers.
FEEDBACK TIP: Less is more, but it’s a challenge on multiple levels. First, just writing shorter sides of dialogue. But they also have to be effective in conveying what the character means. So when you assess a scene, make sure each side is clear in its meaning. If not, note that for the writer and come up with alternate ways of using 5 words or less to be clearer.
Want to join in? For the Week 1 writing prompts, go here. For the Week 2 writing prompts, go here. Week 3, here.
Day 16 challenge: Someone applying for a job.
Day 17 challenge: A drunken tirade.
Day 18 challenge: A conversation involving texting.
Day 19 challenge: A prayer.
It’s the 2015 Dialogue-Writing Challenge! Give a jolt to your creative and writing muscles… and win 1 free online class with yours truly.
NOTE #1: If you have done all 10 exercises and provided 10 feedback posts, you are eligible to take one of my Craft classes for free. Just get in touch with me via email and I’ll handle the rest.
NOTE #2: This is the last prompt in the 2015 Dialogue-Writing Challenge. Participants have until Midnight (Pacific), Saturday, February 28 to post their scenes and scene reviews to be eligible for one of my free Craft classes.