He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. “It’s better not to sleep at all,” he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday—Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere—at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself—were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidrigaïlov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled

Writing Dialogue

The Ultimate Guide to Writing Dialogue


Bad Dialogue Ruins a Novel

Do your characters sound real? Does their dialogue sound natural? If not, that’s a huge turn-off for readers.

You need a Guide

Let me guide you help you avoid common mistakes and make your character’s speech jump off the page. 

I’m John Fox, and I Can Help You Write Better Dialogue

This 28-video course offers everything you need

Through videos, handouts, writing exercises, and quizzes, you will learn everything you need to write dialogue that readers will never forget.

You Will Learn How To

Make Each Character Sound Different

These videos show you examples of incredible dialogue and offer practical steps to help you take your dialogue writing up a level.

Perfect Your Dialogue Tags

Test your knowledge with quizzes and find a vast treasure trove of excellent dialogue examples.

Avoid Dialogue Mistakes

Most lessons have you practice dialogue exercises based on the lesson. Reinforce what you’ve just learned!

By the End of the Course

  • You’ll feel confident and proud about your dialogue.
  • What your characters say will feel authentic.
  • You’ll have all the tools you need to keep writing fantastic dialogue.

Bookfox has appeared in


Whether you’re just starting to write or have several books out, this course will improve your dialogue. I start with basics but escalate to sophisticated techniques.

This course is available worldwide.

You can go at your own pace. But if you do one video/quiz/writing challenge per day, the course would take just over 3 weeks. If you take it full time, it would take about a week.

Email me and ask: mailto:john@bookfox.co

John Matthew Fox

Meet Your Instructor

With a background as an editor, I’ve helped hundreds of writers publish their books. My own book, “I Will Shout Your Name” was published by Press 53, and my nonfiction book “The Linchpin Writer” is forthcoming. I’ve been published in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune. In a former life I was a college professor — I earned an MFA from the University of Southern California and an MA from New York University, but now I focus on Bookfox full time.

John Matthew Fox

Course Curriculum

1. Why Use Dialogue
2. An Instinct for Dialogue
3. The Retort
3. PDF
4. Twelve Ways to Make Each Character Sound Different
4. Quiz
4. PDF
5. Three Types of Dialogue
5. Quiz
5. PDF
6. Dialogue Tags: 4 Ways to Avoid “He Said”
6. PDF
7. The Dialogue Triangle
7. Quiz
7. PDF
8. Evade
8. PDF
9. Fight
9. PDF
10. Contrast
10. PDF
11. Conceal
11. PDF
12. Writing Scenes of Dialogue
12. PDF
13. Tap your Life’s Dialogue
13. Quiz
13. PDF
14. Should you write realistic dialogue or hyperrealistic?
14. PDF
15. Five Strategies to Improve Your Dialogue
15. PDF
16. Three Dialogue Mistakes to Avoid
16. PDF
16. Quiz
17. Three More Mistakes
17. PDF
17. Quiz
18. How to Edit Your Dialogue
18. PDF
18. Quiz
19. Compress like an Editor
19. PDF
19. Quiz
20. Using Voice to Build Character
20. PDF
21. Single-Word Dialogue
21. PDF
22. Write Zippy Dialogue
22. PDF
23. Write Funnier Dialogue
23. PDF
24. The Power of Silence
24. PDF
24. Quiz
25. Nailing Dialect
25. PDF
26. Misunderstandings
26. PDF
27. #%$&ing Dialogue (Cursing)
27. PDF
28. Final Thoughts

“I love this course. There are videos, quizzes, and pdfs that can be downloaded and printed out. Being a word enthusiast, and while creating my own very first online course for teaching the nuts and bolts of English, I feel like I have found a diamond in the internet of crushed gravel. Ha ha! That was fun to write.”

Raven Garland

“I took a lot of writing courses and read a lot of books on writing (which tend to overlap a lot and repeat the same things), yet so much of the advice and lessons in this course were completely new and valuable to me. The instructor is a natural teacher, explains concepts wonderfully, not just the writing lesson but also the effect it will have on the story, which makes it much more interesting and easier to understand. More courses like this, please!”

Emira Mahmutovic

“Smart sexy in a tight tee John Matthew Fox captured my attention to keep me nourished with emboldening information in a most intriguing and riveting way with his lively dialogue and varied POV’s of camera angles that delivered, in entertaining ways, invaluable ideas and insights—an inspiration for me to become a better writer. ”

Thomas Clark

“This course was fun, and I thought the teacher had a lot of good insights which I plan to use in my writing going forward. Much appreciated. I will be watching for more courses from this instructor.”

Cathy Tenzo

Improve Your Dialogue Now

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You will love “Splendid Sentences”

I’m confident this course will help you learn how to write better dialogue. I’m so confident I offer a money-back 30-day guarantee.

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