Say It Like You Mean It: 10 Days to Better Dialogue with Suzy Vitello

In this ten-day crash course, Suzy Vitello—den mother of Chuck Palahniuk's writing group—will teach you the secrets of writing dialogue that sings.

Your Instructor: Suzy Vitello, author of THE MOMENT BEFORE and THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES

Where: Online — Available everywhere!

When: This class is not currently enrolling. To be notified when it is offered again, Click Here

Enrollment: 30

Price: $249

Class Description

When you study writing with Suzy Vitello you’re studying with Tom Spanbauer and Gordon Lish and Chelsea Cain. Suzy is one of the rare writers who recognize and collect skills from a wide range of master storytellers. She’s become a one-woman MFA program. Better yet, she’s Suzy Vitello, a compassionate teacher who sees that, whether or not they’re published, writers are human beings, and she treats them with patience and respect. —Chuck Palahniuk

It's easy to write dialogue. It's not so easy to write good dialogue—and bad dialogue can sink a scene and disengage a reader pretty quickly.

Good dialogue needs to be immediate. It needs to be resonant. It needs to sing on the page.

Suzy Vitello, the den mother of Chuck Palahniuk's Portland-based writing workshop, and author of The Moment Before and The Empress Chronicles, is a pro at writing and editing dialogue that grabs a reader. In this ten-day intensive, she'll demystify the art and craft of writing effective dialogue. Through five craft lectures and Q&A discussion threads, participants will gain new tools and have access to a forum to solve their dialogue-related conundrums.

This class will be broken up into three main parts:


The first five days of the course will consist of five in-depth lectures developed by Suzy on how to write stronger dialogue. And as an added bonus, the final lecture will include exclusive dialogue-writing tips from Chuck Palahniuk, Lidia Yuknavitch, Chelsea Cain and Monica Drake!

Q & A

The ten-day class will feature an on-going Q & A thread where participants can take part in discussion forums where they will be free to ask Suzy about the lectures or other dialogue-related questions.


Once the five-day lecture portion of the class is complete, students will be asked to submit a prompt-driven writing assignment of a specified page count in order to test out their new skills. Participants will have the option of posting their homework for input from classmates.


What This Class Covers

1. The pros and cons of “blocking”

Is narrative necessary to avoid talking heads? And if so, how much is enough when it comes to dressing up the chatter?

2. Don’t try and advance the plot with dialogue

Have you ever been tempted down this road? “Oh, James, ever since my very unsuccessful real estate transaction with my ex-husband of six years, I’ve been reluctant to buy a house.” Learn what the alternatives are, and also why in back-and-forth passages between characters you should resist resolution and completion.

3. Some alternatives to traditional attribution

How to avoid the dead zone rhythm of “he said” “she said.” With examples from some of your favorite authors.

4. How to get more authority in your dialogue

It’s not always about what is said. This lecture will consider placement, authenticity, narrative pace and other aspects of authority-building.

5. Ten things to change about your dialogue starting today

A distillation of the art and craft of fantastic dialogue.

Goals Of This Class

  • Learn to write more authentic dialogue that engages the reader
  • Gain new tools to solve dialogue-related conundrums
  • Get your questions about dialogue answered
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