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How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript
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How to Write Dazzling Dialogue: The Fastest Way to Improve Any Manuscript

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  1,631 ratings  ·  217 reviews
There is one sure-fire way of improving your novel fast. . .

You may know the fundamentals of how to write fiction. You may be more than competent in plot, structure and characters. But if your dialogue is dull it will drag the whole story down.

On the other hand, if your dialogue is crisp and full of tension it immediately grabs the reader. And if that reader is an agen
Kindle Edition, 137 pages
Published May 28th 2014 by Compendium Press
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 ·  1,631 ratings  ·  217 reviews

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K.M. Weiland
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
As always, Bell has put together lots of great tips here. He breaks down the process of dialogue, starting with the basics (even talking about punctuation, which is something I see abused way more than it should be) and building up to some really snazzy tips for more experienced authors, who are wanting to take their characters’ speech to the next level. Keep your highlighter handy!
J.Paul (inactive because of drafting)
I've actually watched a lot of YouTube videos, teaching me how to be good at writing dialogue. While those videos were really helpful, I convinced myself to seek for more resources, so I picked this book. The contents of this were not different from what I've watched—same tips but a little bit wider in scope. Also, I appreciate the author's incorporation of his own experiences as examples. ...more
Elise Stone
Jun 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: writers
Recommended to Elise by: James Scott Bell
I have two bookshelves of writing craft books. This doesn't include the shelf with my dictionaries, style manuals, thesauri, and grammar books. I've also taken many writing classes. I've made a conscious effort in the past couple of years to not take any more classes, not buy any more books because most of them don't have anything new to teach me.

This book is different.

It's really a booklet or pamphlet, not a whole book, but it focuses specifically on writing dialogue and goes deeper than most g
Stephanie Swanbeck
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is the first book I read by James Scott Bell, and I'm already a major fan. He has a way of telling his lessons in a thorough yet concise manner that I have yet to see in other writing fiction how-to authors. I'm really looking forward to reading his other books! ...more
Chris Garner
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: on-writing
There appears to be a certain, consistent quality about these short books by Bell. I believe it is this: they are helpful but also vaguely disappointing. This may be a result of their brevity, or that they are simple in a manner that lends itself to being perceived as trivial. Oversimplification, after all, is convenient for writers. It means doing less work. A conflict occurs, however, when readers recognize this and attribute it to the writer wanting to make a quick buck. I don’t want to under ...more
Aug 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Could have done without the transphobic Kurt Vonnegut quote, but otherwise a solid reference with interesting writing exercise suggestions.
Barbara Venkataraman
Jul 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Worth the read!

I love everything James Scott Bell writes. Having read dozens of books on writing I’ve found very few as excellent as his.
Neha D'souza
Apr 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
Brilliant! Brilliant! Brilliant!

If you’re a writer, do yourself a favour and read this book. James Scott Bell uses a number of examples to show you what makes good dialogue.

To my delight, the first scene from Gone with the wind is used as an example of brilliant dialogue writing. The heightened tension in the room is brought to light through Scarlett’s panicked confession and Ashley’s polite rejection. And then there’s Rhett Butler thrown into the mix - with his sardonic comebacks to Scarlett’
Sidharth Kriplani
Jan 16, 2020 rated it liked it
The book is short, 140 pages long, examples are provided everywhere, there is nothing much that exaggerated the art of writing dialogue while giving the due respect to those who have established themsleves to be masters of it. I would definitely recommend just about anyone in case they want to learn to write better dialogues.
A. S.
Aug 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Super quick read, a lot of great advice. Absolutely would recommend for anyone writing a novel.

The examples were as helpful for me as the explanations were, and there are LOTS of examples, but I think that's just me :)
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This was a great quick reference on writing dialogue and really helped me when I was stymied by my characters’ inability to say two words to each other that weren’t deadly dull. Glad I came across it while searching other writing books.
Oct 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2019-reads
Well meaning tips and plenty of examples through which to better understand the author's stated points. ...more
D. Fox
Sep 02, 2020 rated it liked it
2,5 stars

It was helpful in terms of tips about how to structure dialogues- I mean technically.
Besides that, I didn't find any groundbreaking ideas or tips.
Feb 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Nothing revolutionary here, but this is definitely a good reference for any time you feel like your dialogue may be falling flat.
Good reminders and some fun exercises I may have to try.
Titania Blesh
Aug 20, 2021 rated it liked it
I read a lot of storytelling books, and I’m sorry to say this wasn’t very helpful to me.
The structure of the book is messy and doesn’t allow me to create a mental scheme of the points. The explanations are confusing. If I cared for metaphors and similes (like a full paragraph on how Spartans train, to say that you should practice writing dialog) I’d read literary fiction. A writing help book should go straight to the point, be clear and concise. KISS.

Also, most of the examples are from old books
Benjamin Spurlock
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely dazzling. James Scott Bell explains not just how to write better dialogue, but explains what the tenets of great dialogue are and what common mistakes are made. Through the use of great examples of fiction and his own humorous illustrations, he makes all of the rules memorable and incredibly vivid.

I personally like what he wrote so much that I'm taking my writing group through the book, as I consider this an epiphany-inducing book. Can't recommend it enough to any creative writer, wh
D.J. Adamson
May 15, 2016 rated it really liked it
More than one of James Scott Bell’s books will be reviewed in Le Coeur de l’Artiste because Bell is so good at explaining craft. Whether someone is writing the next great literary novel or the next bestseller, Bell gives an education in craft that can be taken from his page to the author’s words.
Dialog promotes character, plot, theme and says a great deal about the person behind the pen.
This book is a must read for anyone interested in writing stories, novels, memoir, or scripts.
Jul 22, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Some parts of this book I found to be boring but overall I liked some of the writing exercises on dialogue. Bell's ability to concisely divulge how he had been able to develop his skill in creating dialogue was appreciated. I particularly liked the exercise of writing in novel format from a screen play, it shows how to develop a story. ...more
Robin Lee Hatcher
Another solid writing book from James Scott Bell. I appreciate his comfortable tone and his examples from many published novels. I believe that newer writers of fiction will benefit the most from this book, but the information also serves as a good reminder for those of us who've been writing for a long time. ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writing-craft
This book is full of "how to" gems. I would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to write better dialogue. The book is easy to read and follow. The examples are relevant and applicable to each topic. ...more
I think this book gives some good tips on dialogue and includes relevant examples. I found it funny and practical. I rented it from the library and it took me forever to return it because I had several other books going at the same time.
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a great quick read with lots of fast and easy - but very insightful - tips on improving dialogue. James Bell was fantastic at providing tons of examples that made the concepts easy to grasp. A great reference!
Amelia Strydom
Jan 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic, practical book on the craft of writing. I highly recommend it to all writers, beginners or experienced.
Jun 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick and enjoyable read with several ideas for writing exercises and itemized tips for improving dialogue writing and writing in general.
Oct 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Very informative. It gets straight to the point and is concise enough to use as a reference to while writing.
Madelén Guttormsen
Jan 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a good book! Really happy I chose this one. I learned so much and I'm really excited to get back to my writing now! Definetly going to check out mpre of the resources listed in the back. ...more
Sep 18, 2021 rated it really liked it
Overall, this was a nice refresher with some pretty good tips for writing dialogue.
Drae Box
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
This was a really helpful book and I'd recommend it to other writers that get feedback that their characters feel off in any way or that want to grow. There will be some things you already know, and a few things that just clear up the way you think about and write out scenes. For example, the most impactful part of the book for me came early on - when Bell explains that a character must have an agenda when speaking, and that what they say should further that agenda. In hindsight it's obvious, bu ...more
Nick Goodsell
Jun 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Such a quick and easy to follow guide!

Working on my own WIP for some time, the beta readers that actually were able to give me feedback said one thing I needed to improve was my dialogue, and sometimes it is jarring to have extremely thick "How to" books about creative writing, so this book was a relief when I saw how thin it was. It gave me the expectation that it would be short, sweet, and to the point.

It gave me some great pointers; the best piece of advice was to remember that for every sce
Dec 27, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: writing, kindle
The premise here is that excellent dialogue is the fastest way to make your novel much better, so here’s a quickie book on how to write excellent dialogue.

I’ve noticed that the novel I’m starting has been coming forth as mostly dialogue—maybe too much—so I figured now’s a good time to learn how to do it really, really well.

This book has a lot of solid information that I already knew. The main new takeaway is: add conflict to all conversations. Make any conversation more interesting by giving the
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Jim is a former trial lawyer who now writes and speaks full time. He is the bestselling author of Try Dying, No Legal Grounds, Presumed Guilty, Glimpses of Paradise, Breach of Promise and several other thrillers. He is a winner of the Christy Award for Excellence in Inspirational Fiction, and was a fiction columnist for Writers Digest magazine. He has written two books in the Writers' Digest serie ...more

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