Online | Fiction | Nonfiction | Seminar

3-Week Prose Seminar: The Art of Dialogue

This three-week craft seminar will focus on techniques prose writers use to master dialogue in both fiction and nonfiction narratives.

First, we will define what dialogue is and isn’t in narrative study and how to formally write dialogue—when to use attributions, how to punctuate, when/how to use or not use standard forms. We will look at specific examples from literature and explore how writers effectively employ strong dialogue and the effect it has on the reader.

Next, we will pull back the curtain on how to construct compelling dialogue. We will experiment with techniques that can show how good dialogue effectively reveals character and keeps the story moving.

Finally, we will do some real-time dialogue editing (on your work!) to change, compress, distill, and magnify the words your characters speak. In addition, we will look at the differences between direct and indirect dialogue, internal monologue, and dialect in speech.

This class will be equally applicable to fiction and nonfiction, short and long forms. We will explore the craft concepts with readings from David Mamet, Tayari Jones, and Luis Alberto Urrea. Writers will get to experiment with various techniques in their own writing, with feedback from the instructor.   

Our class platform works best on laptop or desktop computers. Class meetings will be held over video chat, using Zoom accessed from your private class page. While you can use Zoom from your browser, we recommend downloading the Zoom desktop client so you have access to all platform features. The Zoom calls will have automated transcription enabled. Please let us know ([email protected]) if you have any questions or concerns about accessibility.

Check out this page for details about payment plans and discount opportunities.  


- You will have a clear understanding of what dialogue is and how to use it effectively.

- You will practice using dialog techniques to amplify the impact your dialog has in stories.

- You will see how strong dialog is one of the writer's most powerful tools. 

- 10% discount on all future Catapult classes


Students will be expected to read or watch (videos) before we meet each week and be prepared to discuss the examples. Also, students will have short writing prompts (both in and outside of class) to experiment with the techniques we cover. There will be no workshop component to the class, though students will have opportunities to share in class.


Week 1: What is Dialog: the Nuts and Bolts

Week 2: Techniques in Writing Effective Dialog

Week 3: Going Deeper: Indirect Dialog, Internal Monologue & Dialect

Richard Farrell

Richard Farrell is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts. His work has appeared in LitHub, CrimeReads, Air & Space Magazine, Hunger Mountain, and elsewhere. His first novel, The Falling Woman, was published by Algonquin Books in 2020.


"As a published writer with several books out in the world, it's really motivating to find an editor as committed and responsive as Rich, with the breadth and depth of knowledge and experience that he brings to every edit. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend Rich to anyone who's ready to take their craft seriously. Be prepared to put the work in, and enjoy the results."

Elizabeth St.John

"As someone who has written but never shared, I found Rich’s style inviting and insightful whether he was giving direct feedback or facilitating group discussions. He has a talent for being able to encourage a writer while making them want to be better. Rich was always available and really went above and beyond the expectations."

Josh Carpenter

"I feel extremely fortunate to have stumbled into his class at San Diego Writer’s Ink all those years ago. Rich became my mentor. It was he who encouraged me to pursue an MFA in creative writing. I have no doubt that I would not be at this point in my writing career were it not for Rich. I will add that though I had the privilege of being taught by some famous writers in my MFA, Rich is by far the best teacher of writing I have experienced. It is to my notes from his classes that I most often turn when I feel stuck. "

Jo-Anne Berelowitz

"Great writing, great plotting and a thoughtful plumbing of what makes us human...Highly recommended."

B.A. Shapiro

"A startling and suspenseful debut. Farrell's The Falling Woman creates an immediately compelling scenario...Subtle and profound."


"A mind-rattling debut mystery."

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