English Lesson on Teaching Teens How to Write Dialogue

Turmoil in the Teen Years

The teenage years contain a lot of conflict with friends and family. As teenagers strive for independence and to form their identity they are often in conflict with other people. Their emotions are often in turmoil and thus writing may be a tool to help them calm their minds. Writing gives teens a catharsis about the conflict they experience in relationships.

Teenagers Love to Talk

Writing dialogue comes naturally to most teenagers. They are immersed in communication for most of their time. In the modern world it is difficult to pry teenagers away from their text messaging devices. If teenagers are not texting, then they are probably on the phone or hanging out with friends talking.

Writing dialogue is fun for high school students. It may also help them delve into their emotions about experiences they have had.

Discuss Conflicts

Start the lesson by asking students to think about a conflict they have had in the last week. Ask them if they actually discussed the conflict or if they were just upset over something and mulling over what to do about it. Ask if anyone would like to volunteer a recent conflict to share with the class. Mention that any topic discussed must be appropriate for use in school.

Read Examples of Dialogue about Conflict

Select examples of dialogue about conflict from a novel, movie script, or short story. Read one to the class or display it on the overhead projector and ask a student to read it aloud. Ask the students if the way the characters communicated was helpful or destructive. Also ask if the dialogue sounds true to life. Do the students think the dialogue helped move the action of the story forward?

Make List of Conflicts

After the discussion, ask the students to make a list of ten conflicts they have had in the past year. This will help them brainstorm ideas of a topic for the dialogue they will write.

Ask them to list the name of the person the conflict involved. Tell them they may use a fictitious name to protect privacy.

Guidelines for Dialogue

Use at least two characters in the dialogue and no more than four characters. Discuss only one main conflict in the dialogue. The dialogue’s total length will be at least 150 lines and no more than 200 lines in length. The dialogue must clearly identify a conflict. The dialogue should be written in the realistic way you speak. Do not include any profanity in the dialogue.

Begin Draft of Dialogue

Circulate the room as students begin to create their dialogue. They will have a lot of questions, so move about the room helping them.

Peer Edit Draft

Ask students to work with a partner to peer-edit their dialogue. The partner should critique the realism of the dialogue, whether the conflict is fully described, if the characters come to life through the dialogue, and if the dialogue is vivid and interesting.

Ask students to continue writing the draft of the dialogue and to finish it for homework over the next several nights.

Assess Student Progress with Dialogue

When grading the dialogue, assess if students followed the guidelines provided for the assignment. Also assign a writing grade based upon the writing skill of creating dialogue which fully depicts the conflict, is interesting to read, is realistic and sounds like the way people actually talk.

Learn more about Writing Dialogue at Bright Hubh Education.