70 Dialogue Writing Prompts

By Ali Hale

For some writers, dialogue comes naturally. They find it easy to “hear” their character’s voices and they have the knack of crafting dialogue that sounds natural without trying to replicate all the “ums” and “ers” of actual speech.

For many writers, though, dialogue can be a struggle. Maybe they don’t know how to get started, or they find themselves writing long conversations that don’t have much point.

Dialogue writing prompts can be a great way of kicking off your dialogue – but they can also be helpful if you’re stuck for an idea or looking for an opening to a scene or a short story.

Here are a bunch of different ones to try, all of which could suit lots of different scenarios – and which could be spoken in different ways.

Thirty Potential Dialogue Starting Prompts

If you’re struggling to get started on a scene, or on a conversation, pick one of these starting lines as a prompt:

#1: “That was my favourite cup.”

#2: “Is there a problem here, gentlemen?”

#3: “What on earth happened in here?”

#4: “You’ve caught me at a really bad time.”

#5: “Hang on. Where’s the baby?”

#6: “What have you done now?”

#7: “You’ll never guess what Sarah told me last night.”

#8: “Ma’am, I’m afraid I’ve got some bad news. Please, sit down.”

#9: “How – how did you find me?”

#10: “Excuse me. Excuse me! Yes, you. You’re sitting in my seat.”

#11: “I don’t think it can be repaired.”

#12: “Ouch, that must’ve hurt.”

#13: “Quick! It’s going to explode!”

#14: “Well, this is new.”

#15:  “Let’s hear your side of the story.”

#16: “I don’t know what happened, officer.”

#17: “There’s blood everywhere.”

#18: “Right, who’s drawn the short straw this time?”

#19: “I don’t even hate you. That would imply I cared.”

#20: “There’s no point running.”

#21: “How are you feeling today? A little better, hmm?”

#22: “This is going to be way harder than we thought.”

#23: “Was that a scream?”

#24: “Do you ever hear noises in the night? Like scratching in the walls?”

#25: “Don’t move.”

#26: “I’m your biggest fan!”

#27: “I love you! No time to explain – gotta go.”

#28: “When did you last see him? Think! This is important!”

#29: “Oh man, I’ve had the worst day ever.”

#30: “This isn’t what it looks like, I swear! Okay … it’s kind of what it looks like, but just give me a chance to explain.”

30 Potential Dialogue Response Prompts

If you find it tricky to imagine a scenario from a starting prompt, try picking one of these prompts that might come slightly further along in a conversation.

#1: “I’ll take that as a compliment.”

#2: “That’s the first time I’ve heard anyone call it that.”

#3: “Woah, back up. You’re losing me.”

#4: “Stop yelling!”

#5: “Well, that’s not a very nice way of putting it. But yes, I suppose you’re right.”

#6: “Okay, I think we do need to call an ambulance.”

#7: “Oh my gosh, are you sure? Like, sure sure?”

#8: “You must have misheard me.”

#9: “Actually, I think this is the wrong way…”

#10: “It’s taken me fifty years to get here. I’m sure as hell not giving up now!”

#11: “Believe me, my dear, no-one regrets this more than I do.”

#12: “Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to talk to strangers?”

#13: “Don’t worry. I hated that wallpaper, anyway.”

#14: “No. Hell, no. Absolutely not.”

#15: “If you could just set it down – very slowly – and then back away.”

#16: “I’ve never actually liked chocolate.”

#17: “I find it very hard to believe that, I’m afraid.”

#18: “That’s a very … bold … thing to say.”

#19: “And you can’t think of any other reason?”

#20: “Shut up.”

#21: “I’m going to give you five seconds to take that back.”

#22: “You’re wrong. That’s not what happened at all.”

#23: “Hey. Look at me.”

#24: “Apologise. Right now.”

#25: “I’m sorry. That sounds awful.”

#26: “Do you maybe think, in retrospect, that this was a terrible idea?”

#27: “Good. I meant it to hurt.”

#28: “That’s not very nice.”

#29: “So hang on, let me get this straight.”

#30: “Actually, I think you’d find that most people have a pretty massive problem with that.”

 

Ten Other Dialogue Prompts to Try in Your Writing

If the above prompts aren’t enough for you, there are loads of other prompts out there. Here are some of my favourites from around the web:

#1: “Just sit around and cry, then. I don’t have that luxury.”

(from 100 Writing Prompts Based on Dialogue, for Fiction, Screenplays, and More, Bryn Donovan)

#2: “You have to tell her. It wouldn’t be right not to.”

(from Dialogue Exercises: 40 Writing Prompts To Get You Going, Marylee MacDonald)

#3: “I need nothing but my mad skills, rugged good looks, and maybe half a million dollars.”

(from  Rooftop Writing Prompt #42, Gabrielle R. Pollack)

#4: “I told you never to go in there, boy!” / “But I heard screaming!” / “That’s none of your concern.”

(from Writing Prompts 51-60 (Dialogue Prompts), Amina Cavallo)

#5: “That’s it! I’m killing them all.” / “Wait, but what about the plan?” / “Forget the plan! These idiots keep getting on my nerves. They have no one to blame but themselves.”

(from Dialogue Prompts & Writing things, theunamazingauthor)

#6: “I made breakfast, but I didn’t know what you liked so I made enough to probably feed a small tribe.”

(from #100 Dialogue Prompts to Make a Reader Swoon… (Okay maybe not all of them), Yasmine)

#7: “Hey! Yeah it’s me….guess what…I’m coming home.”

(from Dialogue Prompts, Tumblr)

#8: “Sweetheart, what did you bury in the garden?”

(from Random First Line of Dialogue, Writing Exercises)

#9: “How much of that did you hear?”

(from 50 Dialogue Prompts, Chrmdpoet)

#10: “For what it’s worth, I don’t know much about you either.”

(from Dialogue with Emotional Connotations: Part Deux, Your Local Writer)

 

Let us know which prompt(s) you’ll be trying out (feel free to combine a few!) … or share your own dialogue prompts with us in the comments.

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