Dialogue is an Intensive, meaning it happens in a short time span (1 day in NYC, or 2 days on Zoom, or 3 weeks Online). The course includes a mixture of lectures and exercises. It’s open to writers of any level. Farther down, you can view a syllabus for this course.

As Rhett tells Scarlett in the movie Gone With the Wind, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” (In the book version, there’s no “frankly.”) Either way it’s a good line, and you should give a damn about your dialogue. Dialogue is crucial to any kind of story—fiction, nonfiction, any kind of script. Bad dialogue can sink it like a hole in the hull, while good dialogue makes a story sail along beautifully.

Writing great dialogue is tricky. Here you’ll learn to write dialogue that sounds lifelike, but is carefully constructed so every line resonates with characterization and meaning.

If you feel your dialogue is in need of punching up, here’s your chance to strengthen those muscles.

About Dialogue

Not only excellent content on constructing dialogue, but also effective exercises to really build the skill of sparkling dialogue.

Margie Haenseler



This is a cross-genre course, applicable to any kind of writing that contains dialogue, including nonfiction.

Upcoming Classes NYC COVID Info

To ensure everyone's good health, students in NYC classes must provide proof of full Covid vaccinations (the initial series of Covid vaccines plus at least one booster). We will accept your Covid vaccine card (or a digital scan), a NY State Excelsior digital card, or another form of government-approved proof. We will contact you before class begins about showing us proof. Also, we will require masks in the classrooms and Gotham premises.

More Covid details
  • Saturday Feb. 25 & Sunday Feb. 26
    Zoom, 1pm – 4pm ET
    2-Day Intensive
  • Starts Tuesday, March 14
    Online, anytime
    3-Week Intensive
  • Saturday, April 29
    NYC, 11am – 6pm ET
    1-Day Intensive


Registration fee $25, paid once per term



This course gives an overview of how to write excellent dialogue, in any genre. Course components:
     Brief lectures
     Writing exercises

New York City/Zoom classes
The syllabus varies from teacher to teacher, term to term. Many topics will be similar to those covered in the Online classes.

Online classes
Week 1
Art and Artifice: Purpose of dialogue. A sense of reality. The illusion of reality. Stage directions. Particulars for handling prose and scripts.

Week 2
How and Why They Talk: Characterization. Character and situation. Desire and conflict. Tactics. 

Week 3 
Subtext and Such: Subtext. Exposition. Stylized dialogue. Dialect. Speeches. 

Note: Content may vary among individual classes.


Richard Caliban
Richard Caliban

Richard Caliban was artistic director of Cucaracha Theater in NYC where he produced new works and directed  his own plays, including Homo Sapien Shuffle at the Public Theatre. His work has been seen at Primary Stages, Playwrights Horizons, Cherry Lane, Ensemble Studio Theatre, La Mama, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Geva Theatre, Denver Center Theatre, and the Berkshire Theatre Festival. He wrote the book/lyrics/music and directed MoM: A Rock Concert Musical, which won Outstanding Musical at the NY International Fringe Festival. Published plays include Rodents & Radios, Gladiator, Famine Plays, and Cranium Fandango. He has directed and/or taught at the National Theatre Conservatory, NYU, Columbia University, C.W. Post College, Hunter College, City College of New York, Towson University, Lincoln Center Director’s Lab, and the Director’s Guild. He holds a BA from Bard College and attended the Yale School of Drama and NY Film Academy.

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