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?

Can you write dialogue that does more than just progress the plot, or tell characters what they already know? (expositional dialogue).

Do your characters sound different from each other?

How do you handle dialogue tags without repeating “he said/she said” too many times?

These are just some of the topics I cover in this course, equipping you to write dialogue that entertains and surprises the reader.


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 take your dialogue writing to the next level.

Perfect Your Dialogue Tags

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

Avoid Dialogue Mistakes

You’ll practice dialogue exercises for each lesson, and by the end you’ll be a wizard at dialogue writing!

By the End of the Course

  • You’ll feel confident and proud about your dialogue.
  • What your characters say will feel authentic.
  • You’ll be closer to self-publishing or landing a publisher!

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: john@bookfox.com

Learn About Me

Hi, I’m John Matthew Fox, and I help authors write better fiction. Over the last ten years, through courses and editing, I’ve helped hundreds of authors write and publish their books.

My website Bookfox has nearly 1,000 posts to help writers, and my books include “The Linchpin Writer” and the short story collection “I Will Shout Your Name.”

I’ve been published by the Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times, and won fiction contests at Third Coast and Shenandoah.

Ask me a question?

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’ve been writing fiction for over twenty years and have always considered dialogue to be one of my main strengths. But in this course, I feel I’ve learned more about the subject than I’ve picked up from books, experience, and writing groups over the last two decades. John’s presentations are super-compelling and packed with great literary examples. The writing challenges are tons of fun and seem carefully crafted to leave students with techniques that stick. I would highly recommend this course to anyone.

Don Thompson

John Matthew Fox’s courses are the best video writing courses I’ve ever taken. I have enjoyed four of his courses and he never disappoints. The videos are clear, concise and comprehensive. His material is full of examples supported with PDFs and short quizzes. A writing challenge helps reinforce each lesson at the end. I love his enthusiastic teaching approach filled with humour and dotted with visual overlays that make the info fun and easy to learn. All writers should take John’s well thought out courses.

Nicki Boyd

The title is absolutely correct. The course does break down dialogue simply, systematically and sensibly. The text is great. The homework is useful. The whole course is great.

Kathleen Byrne

A great perspective on all the ways dialogue can be a lot more charged with energy, humor, slang, speed, and keep your readers engaged. Now I’m way better prepared to write good dialogue.

Melanie Seilbach

I always enjoy John’s courses because I learn new information. It is not a repeat of many other courses just covering the basics. He always approaches the subject with new ideas and ways of writing that I haven’t heard before. I loved it!

Jane Ruth

This is an excellent course. It is a truly comprehensive guide that reviews and provides instruction on the use of every type of dialogue that might be used in fiction writing. The method of instruction is very thought-provoking, enabling the student to see clearly the impact each type of dialogue can have on a scene.

Jeannette Watts

This is the perfect dialogue writing class. Fun and informative, and so much new info broken down into manageable chunks. Exercises are challenging in just the right way. A wonderful course!

Tina Anderson

This dialogue course is EXACTLY what I needed. I found it more helpful than I can put into words!

Robbin Gabriel

Packed full of invaluable tips and techniques, there’s so much to take away from John’s dialogue course. As usual, the course has been created with care and thought, and is both accessible and inspiring. Worth your time and money!

Richard Evans

It was really helpful to my writing to have a step by step guide for bringing my characters to life through dialogue! The writing exercises and tools for building your dialogue repertoire were particularly useful. Highly recommend this course for anyone wanting to take their writing to another level.

by Bill Colston

Improve Your Dialogue Now

Normally $199 — get the sale price now

Buy Now
3 x $50

Split payment over 3 months

Buy Now

You will love this course

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.

Get an Annual Pass

Want access to all my courses? It costs the same as buying 2 courses.

Get Access Now