Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A review of Brian Henry’s How to Write Great Dialogue workshop by Mary Steer

Let your characters speak their truth!
I thought I knew all there was to know about dialogue. In numerous classes with Brian, fellow writers had always mentioned I was good at it. But I do love Brian’s workshops, and I hadn’t taken the dialogue one, so I packed up my hubris along with the requisite paper, pens and smile, and sloped along to the Oakville Public Library.

The room was packed. One of the great things about Brian’s workshops is hanging out with other writers, some familiar faces and some new – people writing everything you can imagine and plenty of stuff you can’t. We did our quick intros and Brian began.

Yes, I thought, I know this.

And then ... Ooh. I didn’t know that – or that – or that.

At the end of the day (in this instance not a cliché but an actual time period), I came out full of excitement and new knowledge. I’ve packed up my hubris for good and I now have a better grasp of dialogue and its place in a story. 

I know the mechanics better, I know how it can expose plot and character, I have a much better sense of when and how it should be used. But I also finally understand how it contributes to a work overall, especially in terms of pacing.

“Hallelujah!” she shrieked. “I get it at last!”

Just kidding! I mean, I do get it and all, but I know better than to write “she shrieked” and... Okay, just take the workshop, okay?

Other things to love about this and any workshop of Brian’s: the writing prompts and writing time, sharing work with other writers, and of course hearing everyone’s questions and learning things you never knew you didn’t know. The best part: I came out all jazzed and ready to get writing again. Both inspiration and the tools to do it justice – what more could you ask from a writing workshop?

Note: Brian is offering a "How to Write Great Dialogue" workshop Sunday, August 21, in Brampton. Details here.

Mary Steer is a word nerd living west of Toronto, where she works and reworks stories from life and imagination. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Halcyon Reader, 50-Word StoriesQuick Brown Fox, CommuterLit and Green's Magazine. When she’s not writing or editing, she likes to dabble in physics (knitting) and chemistry (baking).

See Brian Henry’s schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Barrie, Bracebridge, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, Saint John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond. 

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