Monday, February 22, 2010

In-House Crit: Talkin' Heads

We haven't done this one for a while, so let's have some fun.

Dialogue can be tricky. In fact, it can derail your story if it's unbelievable, stilted, or dorky. (Go on. Ask Mr. A about all the dorky dialogue he winnows out of my work.)

Strong dialogue, on the other hand, brings your characters--and your story--to life. It conveys emotion and intent, shares information, creates tension.

So here's the way Talkin' Heads works:

  • Submit your 250-word DIALOGUE-RICH excerpt for critique. It DOES NOT have to be the first page. It DOES NOT have to be from a completed manuscript (proofread would, of course, be nice). Please make sure the excerpt is A MINIMUM OF 50 PERCENT DIALOGUE.
  • Precede your excerpt with A SHORT BLURB EXPLAINING THE SETTING. (Emphasis on "short" please)
  • Choose a ONE- OR TWO-WORD DESCRIPTION of the EMOTION or PURPOSE your scene is supposed to convey. THIS IS IMPORTANT! Our critiques will be focused primarily on whether this goal was accomplished.
  • Submissions are open now. I will only close them before the session opens if the number of entries rises above 50.


(Short intro here)

(Dialogue-rich excerpt here)

It will be helpful if, in your intro blurb, you identity the main character (or whoever the primary character in the scene is).

That's it! I'll post the entries on Wednesday. All entrants, please remember that you need to critique a minimum of 5 other entries.

Questions? Post 'em!


  1. Do we send it to the same email as the Secret Agent contest?

  2. I was just about to post the same ? as Amy Jo...I'm glad the answer wasn't sitting right in front of me and I missed it!

  3. Yep! All contests/crit fests go to the same address.

  4. if it's 252 words is that okay? (is that a stupid question?)

  5. I love dialogue. Hmmm, now, which bit of snappy dialogue to submit???? : )

  6. 252 words is fine. Because it's never okay to stop in the middle of a sentence. =)

    Scott -- One day, when I unveil, I will hunt you down and buy you a big cup of coffee. =)

  7. Submit to Talking Heads plus doing taxes at the same time.

    Not a good combination.

    Good thing I have my priorities straight. Submit to Authoress, THEN taxes.

  8. I just emailed my sub. I hope I did this right. How do we post comments on the others? I assume you'll post them here? Ack. Forgive a lurker who's just jumping into the fray.

  9. I submitted to

    Please say that was the correct address. Pretty please?

  10. Glad I remembered to check your blog this afternoon! I have a new wip just begging for a crit session like this. :)

  11. This sounds like fun! I'm always unsure whether my dialogue is natural or hopelessly stilted, so it should be a very useful exercise. :)

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  13. I've been away from the internet for the past 5 or 6 months. I've been trying to edit my novel, so this is great!

    Hopefully I'll get it in before you close!

    P.S. I've really missed the Secret Agent contests. Even if I don't enter all of them, I love reading the comments from agents and authors. Such selective tastes!

  14. Oh thank god! I've been dying to try out my new WIP (not finished yet)!!!

  15. Sounds fun. I'm game. I like dialogue so it'll be fun to read everyone else's too!