Literary magazine Bartleby Snopes was founded by Nathaniel Tower in 2008. In 2010 it was named as one of Flavorwire’s ‘Top Ten Online Literary Magazines You Should Be Reading’. Bartleby Snopes currently publishes two stories per week and holds a regular Story of the Month competition. Bartleby Snopes also publishes a free downloadable magazine every January and July.
In 2015 Bartleby Snopes is running its 7th Annual Dialogue Only Writing Contest. Entrants are asked to create an original story of up to 2000 words composed entirely of dialogue. To help writers meet this challenge, the editors have composed the following very useful tips.
Every year, Bartleby Snopes Literary Magazine hosts a dialogue-only writing contest. Submissions must consist of nothing but dialogue. You can have as many characters as you want, but you can’t have any tag lines or any narration. If it sounds easy, then you are probably doing it wrong.
During the six years we’ve hosted the contest, we have read hundreds of dialogue stories. Here are some things we have learned in the process. Even if you don’t plan to submit to the contest, we think these tips will help you create stories with great dialogue.
Good Dialogue Should Feel Real
Many authors try to force the story to move through the dialogue. They will attempt to “cheat” by making the characters say unnatural things in order to paint the scene better. A character might say “I am going to pick up this gun right here off this table that is right next to me.” In most stories, the character would probably just pick up the gun. When you are telling a story through dialogue, you must remain true to your characters. Don’t force them to say things they wouldn’t just because it will move your plot along or paint a better picture in the reader’s head (it probably won’t). Before you start penning your dialogue-only story, take some time to listen to an actual conversation. After you’ve written your story, read it out loud and ask yourself if it actually sounds like people talking. If you can’t imagine someone saying it, then the story probably isn’t going to work.