Workshop Notes


Writing Prompts for FictionI’m so happy to have met you at my two KPL workshops this fall.  If you have any questions, please drop me a line at


9 Rules For Writing Dialogue
Harvey Chapman

 Five Tips on Writing Dialogue

Spice Up Your Dialogue
Arlene W. Robinson and Terry Robinson

How to Write Effective Dialogue in Your Novel
Gary Smailes

Who Speaks? Pointers about Attribution in Dialogue
By Victoria Grossac

Do You Have “As You Know, Bob…” Syndrome?–How Writers Can Butcher Dialogue & How to Fix It
By Marcy Kennedy

Punctuation in Dialogue
By Beth Hill

Dialogue: Make Each Character Unique
Darcy Pattison

Are Your Characters Talking Heads?

10 tips for writing better dialogue
Alice Kuipers

Seven Keys to Writing Good Dialogue
Nathan Bransford

Beginnings, Middles and Ends
Nancy Kress

I Can’t Believe You Said That- Using Dialogue to Build Conflict
Eileen Cook

Dialogue Writing Prompts

  • I bought Bill a present.
  • Why?
  • Because I know it will make him furious.
  • Jacob said to make a right turn here.
  • Yes, I heard him.
  • Then why aren’t we turning?
  • Wait! I’ve dropped something.
  • We don’t have time to go back.
  • Who is that girl?
  • That one?
  • You must be the only one who doesn’t know.
  • I can’t believe he gave that to her.
  • I can’t believe she took it.
  • What happened to me?
  • What’s the last thing you remember?
  • How did you get here?
  • Magic
  • Really, how did you get here?
  • I think I’d better explain.
  • Catch.
  • What is it? It’s really heavy.
  • That’s not all it is
  • We have to go.
  • But I like it here.
  • And I like staying alive
  • Where are we?
  • I have no idea. But I do know one thing”
  • What’s that?
  • It’s not safe.


Story Genius: How to Use Brain Science to Go Beyond Outlining and Write a Riveting Novel (Before You Waste Three Years Writing 327 Pages That Go Nowhere) by Lisa Cron

4 Steps for Organizing Plot Ideas into a Novel by Jody Hedlund

The Brainstormer – a writing prompts generator that offers endless options

Writer Igniter – a fun writing generator that can be a bit addictive

My website: Just hold your cursor over the number to find the writing prompt

Janice Hardy’s Fiction University: Plotting tips


  • Freewrite around the word “lonely.” To what or to whom do you turn when you are lonely? To what or to whom does your character turn?
  • Describe what happened the last time your character cried
  • How does your character react when lied to?
  • If you only had one window to look out of for the next six months, what would you want to see on the other side? Describe the view. How would it change? Why did you choose this particular view? Do the same exercise for your character? What did you learn?
  • Play what if–The antique bracelet found by your character was engraved with map coordinates and a date in the near future; a garden shed was really a time travel portal; a picnic basket held a wonderful romantic meal—and a gun.
  • See what happens when you explore one of the following as your character: My life as an aunt/uncle; The worst mess I ever had to clean up; Why I love … ; If you want to annoy me, just ….


Think of a story that might begin or end with one of these sentences. Feel free to change the names, gender of the characters, etc.:

  1. “No. You unwrap your present first.”
  2. I yanked out my ear buds. That noise had to be a scream.
  3. The smell of smoke lingered long after the blaze had died.
  4. I huddled in the stern as the sea slammed the little boat.
  5. Why was her floor covered in broken glass?
  6. The cave was dark, but at least it was dry.
  7.  “Storm’s coming.”
  8. Henry was never late.
  9. Only the body disturbed the smooth surface of the pool.
  10. The sword felt heavy in her hand.
  11. Heartbeats shouldn’t be this loud.
  12. Henry heard the click and froze.
  13. My mother always said that it was better to ask for forgiveness than for permission
  14. Some tunes bring back the wrong kind of memories.
  15. The creature slipped into the long grass.
  16. Was I the only one who had noticed that there’d been no squeal of brakes before the car hit the wall?
  17. “Helen hates me.”
  18. Henry hid under the table.
  19. The jewels sparkled in the sunlight.
  20. Marcus pulled his cloak more tightly around his shoulders
  21. “When was the last time you saw Henry Marsh?”
  22. Helen shivered, closed the book she was reading, and turned out the light.
  23. Mondays never go well.
  24. How can someone get lost twice in one day?
  25. Is that a threat?
  26. I definitely didn’t like the way those lights were flickering.
  27. So young.
  1. I never dreamt it would be still standing after all these decades, but if my great aunt’s diary was right, this simple weathered cabin was magic.
  1. Kisses are just the beginning.
  2. Typical Michael.
  3. Tom had everything, except …
  4. If you couldn’t arrange for a solar eclipse to darken your day, there was always Henry.
  5. The winter wind rattled the windows.
  6. Henry was fine—in his place.
  7. He’d always had the perfect golf grip. The one he used on the gun wasn’t bad either.
  8. Parker was definitely not singing in the rain.
  9. Pick up the sword.
  10. That is definitely not supposed to be lying on my front porch.
  11. Only the desperate need apply.
  12. I’d had a lot of experience with death, but this time …
  13. If my smartphone was so smart why had it just called Jim?
  14. Sam shivered. It wasn’t the cold.
  15. White lace curtains fluttered in the warm breeze.
  16. The air was thick with wood smoke.
  17. I thought Play-Doh® was for kids until I saw the body.
  18. Now I know what they really mean by “caught in the act.”
  19. Red warning lights flashed on the console.
  20. Remind me again why I wanted to be a June bride.
  21. When I thought about the cabin, I only remembered the corners—the ones where I’d crouched in fear.
  22. The next time I say ‘yes’ I’m actually going to listen to the question.

Learning about Your Character: Click on this link for a character worksheet: learning-about-your-character

Click on this link for a fun writing prompt generator, PICK 4 WORDS: pick-4-word

Take advantage of what I’ve learned about writing and publishing by checking out my personalized writing coach options. Arrange for your free 15-minute telephone chat to see if I’m the coach for you.There’s a writer inside all of us, let me help you find yours.