1. Dialog isn't conversation.
2. It shouldn't have "echoes" like repeated names or phrases.
3. It should make the reader curious.
4. It should create or build conflict by revealing more than the characters actually say.
I thought that for the workshop I'm doing I'd take some samples of dialog, have kids read them aloud, and then ask them to talk about the short scenes, guiding the discussion with specific questions.
Here's one example:
“Wait up, Princess.” When I look back Juan is jogging to catch up. I take out my keys and hurry to my driver’s door.
“Late for something?” He’s right behind me.
“I’ve got homework.” I’ve already opened the door and scooted behind the wheel.
“Sure. Just thought I'd tell you about Keith. See you tomorrow, Princess.”
“I’m not a — What about Keith?”
(From: The Princess of Las Pulgas, 2010)
How does the girl feel about the boy?
What do you think the boy says after the girl's last line of dialog?
I might ask them to write that last line and then re-read the dialog with a partner.
So how does this exercise strike you? Is there more I could do besides another dialog sample and discussion? I think I need to keep these exercises short, varied, and interactive since the kids are from 10 to 13.