Dialogue: The art of putting words in someone else’s mouth​

with Joshua Mohr


How many times have we heard the aged expression, “We’ll see what she says about that!” There’s anticipation in hearing someone express themselves, and the same is true of fiction and creative nonfiction writing: our characters need to speak, voice their opinions, woes, aspirations, biases, phobias, regrets.  “We can write lovely exposition,” says instructor Joshua Mohr, “but readers need to hear what our characters sound like, what their preoccupations are. That way they can sculpt their own conclusions about them.” 

In this course, students will work on many in-class exercises to hone their ear for dialogue. “We’ll work on giving each character a nuanced voice,” says Josh. “We’ll select the right words to push the plot forward, generate subtext, strip our dialogue down to its meaty essentials; when each line of dialogue bolsters the story, we’ll have established a connection between character and reader.” Throughout the course, students will be exposed to a great array of dialogue, from traditional novel and short story examples, to memoir, to playwriting and screenwriting.  “The larger net we cast,” Josh says, “the better chance we’ll land an example that resonates for each student.”


4 Afternoons:  Monday 11/7 – Thursday 11/10, 1:30-4:30pm

A $100 combination discount will be applied when registering for the conference at the same time.


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Joshua Mohr is the author of the novels “Termite Parade,” an Editors’ Choice on The New York Times Best Seller List, and “Some Things that Meant the World to Me,” one of O Magazine’s Top 10 reads of 2009 and a SF Chronicle best-seller. His most recent novel is “Damascus” about which the New York Times said:

“The author’s jaunty voice [is] Beat-poet cool…Mohr nails the atmosphere of a San Francisco still breathing in the smoke that lingers from the days of Jim Jones and Dan White, a time when passionate ideologies and personal dysfunction intermingled and combusted.”  — New York Times

Mohr teaches in the MFA program at the University of San Francisco and Stanford University’s creative writing program.